Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Resigns

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CHICAGO (AP)
— Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a once-rising political star who has been on a
months-long mysterious medical leave for bipolar disorder while facing
separate federal investigations, resigned from Congress Wednesday,
citing his health problems.

Jackson's
resignation, just two weeks after voters re-elected him to a ninth full
term, comes amid a House Ethics Committee investigation into his
dealings with imprisoned ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and reports of
a new federal probe into possible misuse of campaign money.

In
his resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Jackson admits
“my share of mistakes” and, for the first time, publicly acknowledges
that he is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.

“I
am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities, and I
am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with
the investigators, accept responsibility for my mistakes,” he wrote.

Jackson added: “They are my mistakes and mine alone.”

Jackson,
47, disappeared in June, and it was later revealed that he was being
treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal
issues. He returned to his Washington home in September but went back to
the clinic the next month, with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson,
saying his son had not yet “regained his balance.”

Attempts
by The Associated Press to locate Jackson were unsuccessful Wednesday,
and family members either declined to comment or could not be reached.

Jackson
was easily re-elected Nov. 6 to represent his heavily-Democratic
district, even though his only communication with voters was a robocall
asking them for patience. He spent election night at the Mayo Clinic but
later issued a statement thanking his supporters and saying he was
waiting for his doctors' OK before he could “continue to be the
progressive fighter” they'd known for years. He left the clinic a second
time earlier this month but has not spoken publicly since.

His
return to the clinic in October came amid reports, first by the Chicago
Sun-Times citing anonymous sources, that he faced a new federal
investigation into potential misuse of campaign funds. An FBI spokesman
in Washington, Andrew Ames, has told The Associated Press he could
neither confirm nor deny the existence of a federal investigation into
Jackson.

In his resignation letter, Jackson
cites his health issues as the reason for his departure from Congress
and says he hopes he is remembered on the balance of his work.

“The
constituents of the (2nd) District deserve a full-time legislator in
Washington, something I cannot be for the foreseeable future. My health
issues and treatment regimen have become incompatible with the House of
Representatives,” Jackson wrote.

Jackson took
office in 1995 after winning a special election. Voters in the district
have said Jackson's family name and attention to local issues have been
the reasons for their support. He has easily won every re-election since
taking office and brought home close to $1 billion in federal money for
his district during his tenure.

He began his
career in Washington with a star power that set him apart from his
hundreds of House colleagues. But his resignation ends a once-promising
political career that was tarnished by the allegations that he was
involved in discussions about raising campaign funds for then-Gov.
Blagojevich in exchange for an appointment to President Barack Obama's
vacated U.S. Senate seat.

The House Ethics
Committee is investigating reports of those allegations, which Jackson
has denied. After the allegations surfaced, he cut back drastically on
his number of public appearances and interviews. Blagojevich is now in
federal prison after being convicted of trying to sell the seat, among
other things.

The timing of Jackson's leave in
June and the way it was handled also has invited scrutiny. It was
announced just after a former fundraiser connected to the Blagojevich
allegations was arrested on unrelated medical fraud charges.

Illinois
Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has five days to schedule an election to
replace Jackson after he receives official notice, and the election must
be held within 115 days, according to election officials.

The
vacancy left by Jackson's departure creates a rare opportunity for
someone else to represent his district, which is made up of South Side
Chicago neighborhoods, several southern suburbs and some rural areas.
Even this year, when Jackson was absent during the crucial final months
of campaigning, he easily defeated two challengers on the ballot.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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