Jackson’s resignation followed a sometimes bizarre unraveling of his congressional tenure, which included a six-month absence from office and multiple stints at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota as he battled depression and bipolar disorder.
His last recorded vote was on June 8, and he was not seen in public after that. Weeks went by without any acknowledgment from his congressional staff about his absence, and press releases rolled out as if everything was fine.
Justice Department officials would not say whether the resignation was connected to developments in the investigation or comment on the inquiry, except to say that it is ongoing.
In his resignation announcement, however, Jackson suggested the possibility of a deal:
“I have made my share of mistakes. 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, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone.”
Barely two weeks after easily winning a ninth full term for which he never publicly campaigned, Jackson’s official departure marks the end of a four-year free-fall in which the once-promising politician’s personal, legal, political and medical aspects of his life ended up in ruin.
“None of us is immune from our share of shortcomings or human frailties and I pray that I will be remembered for what I did right,” Jackson, 47, wrote in an unusually personal two-page letter of resignation. He submitted it to the office of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) after telling high-level Democratic officials in Chicago and the state capital of his plans, congressional and Chicago officials said.
Elected to succeed a scandal-ridden lawmaker 17 years ago, Jackson had ambitions far beyond Chicago’s South Side-based 2nd Congressional District. Many viewed him as the heir that could fulfill the political aspirations of his father, whose presidential runs in the 1980s were considered the first credible campaigns by an African American for national office. Raised mostly in the District, the younger Jackson attended St. Alban’s School before enrolling in North Carolina A&T, his father’s alma mater. He also holds a master’s degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary and a law degree from the University of Illinois.
Four years ago, Jackson was a leading contender for an appointment to the Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama, who had just been elected president.
But that moment of opportunity turned to doom when FBI agents arrested then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and charged him with trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder.