Jesse Jackson Jr. Says His Kids’ Mental Health Is At Stake In Divorce

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has not yet publicly offered an explanation for filing for divorce from his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, but said Monday his main goal in court is to protect his two teenage children from tabloid headlines.

Jackson filed for divorce in December in Cook County, and Sandi has filed a separate divorce case in Washington, D.C.

Speaking publicly about the divorce for the first time on Monday, Jackson would not elaborate on the “acts” that his attorneys have said his wife committed to prompt the divorce, but defended his decision to issue subpoenas to former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and two other men.

The subpoena issued to McCarthy sought records of cash, checks, or property given to Ms. Jackson, including attorney’s fees, groceries, rent or clothing. The subpoena also asks the former superintendent to produce documents detailing what he received from her. Jackson’s attorneys also demanded social media correspondence, photos, videos, emails and texts between McCarthy and Ms. Jackson.

The former congressman would not elaborate on why he has subpoenaed McCarthy, saying he is seeking details on information he does not want his children to see in supermarket tabloids.

“I’m very protective of my children. That which I know, and that which I discovered, I do not want to make available to the public. … I don’t want to see some of it in a grocery stand line, in a tabloid,” he said. “What I do want them to know is that their dad did the best he could in fighting back; that he pushed back on the information that he legally found with the process by which he wanted to recover information from the process, to make sure that it never impacts their psychology and their mental health. I don’t want their classmates to see it; what I know and what I’ve discovered.”

Jackson said his 17-year-old daughter has been aware of the issues that led up to the divorce “at great length” for several years, and said his 13-year-old son also is aware of many of them.

“But he said ‘Daddy, don’t worry about it. These individuals are going to take care of mommy.’ And it’s hard for me to hear it when I heard it. So it’s their psychology that’s at stake in my case, and I’m very careful about overstepping my boundaries, because of what I don’t want to read,” he said.

Sandi Jackson’s attorneys have sought to quash the subpoenas and the judge in the Cook County case has halted those subpoenas while the courts determine the proper jurisdiction for the divorce.

Jesse Jackson Jr. said the proper venue for the divorce is in Illinois, rather than D.C.

“It was always my hope that the jurisdiction issue could be resolved in the favor of Illinois, because the cause and the reason for the dissolution of the marriage is right here in Illinois. The issues are very specific, Sandra and I know,” he said.

Jackson also defended the $138,400 a year he receives from the federal government in workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability payments, due to his bipolar disorder and depression.

“It’s a very difficult process to get it, and you have to go through an annual renewal process, and I still meet with my professional counselors on a regular basis, and have never stopped,” he said.

He also noted his wife is seeking all of that money in the divorce case she filed in D.C.

“In the Washington case … my wife is asking for everything. In the Chicago case, and in the Chicago media, I don’t even deserve what I got,” he said. “Look at the two cases. My wife, in that case, is asking for everything. ‘Jesse, give me your whole disability check.’ In the Chicago media, ‘You don’t even deserve a disability check.’ So, from a wife who wants all the check to a media in Chicago that says you’re not even entitled to it. Again, attacked from all angles, and I’m the petitioner.”

Jackson said he feels “fantastic,” but said he has good and bad days as he continues treatment for bipolar disorder and depression.

However, he said he is near bankruptcy after he and Sandi paid restitution following their convictions for illegally spending $750,000 in campaign money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

The next hearing in the divorce case in Cook County has been scheduled for April 3.

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