Jesse Jackson Jr. leave of absence could continue through Labor Day

July 10, 2012 9:45:42 PM PDT
ABC News has learned that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will likely not return to Congress until after Labor Day.

The head of the Congressional Black Caucus estimated that Jackson would be back at work in about two months. Jackson has been on medical leave for a month for an undisclosed condition.

There were also new calls Tuesday for Jackson Jr. to come forward with details about his medical problem. His family and staff have been tight-lipped about his whereabouts and the exact reason for his treatment.

With no confirmed, factual information to rely on, voters, media and other elected officials are bandying about rumors and speculation regarding the congressman's condition and whereabouts. Despite numerous calls, ABC7 has received nothing from Jesse Jackson Jr.'s staff since a somewhat vague statement.

The pastor of New Zion Christian Fellowship Church, Bishop Lance Davis, is among Jackson's constituents who are unsatisfied with what they say is the limited information they've gotten so far about his condition. The church of more than 500 members is located in Dolton.

"Let those who... put their vote out there thinking that you were the best candidate and the best man for the job, give them a reason why you're not here," said Davis.

Jackson's condition is the subject of rampant speculation on radio talk shows across Chicago. Just what exactly is ailing him? And why has his camp refused to give details? Dozens of callers offered opinions all afternoon on Roe Conn's WLS radio show. But at this point almost anyone outside of Jackson's camp can offer is an opinion.

"It requires the congressman or the congressman's staff now to be very clear about what it is he's suffering from," said Conn.

The congressman's father Rev. Jesse Jackson joined the conversation on the radio Tuesday afternoon but offered no insight on the many rumors concerning his son when ABC7 caught up with him after an appearance on WBEZ.

"I don't feel compelled to chase rumors - I think the next voice you will probably hear will be from the doctor, and then the congressman, but not the rumor mill," said Rev. Jackson. "The fact is, he is under medical supervision and is right now regaining his strength."

Some of the congressman's colleagues on Capitol Hill say they are also frustrated by the lack of solid information.

The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus says that rumors and speculation so far are mostly inaccurate. He says the congressman's disappearance has nothing to do with an ongoing ethics investigation into his alleged pursuit of the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

But Jackson's Illinois House Democratic colleague Luis Gutierrez on Tuesday joined the call for information.

"I think that he has a responsibility to give us more information," Gutierrez said. "And I'm not demanding that information. But I think the people of his congressional district deserve it. The people of Illinois deserve it. If he's going to stand for re-election you guys are going to demand it."

The Democratic party has until late August to determine whether Jackson's name will remain on the ballot for the November election. No one at this point has suggested he would not be on the ballot.

The head of the black caucus said he is confident Jackson's health issues have nothing to do with the ongoing ethics investigation in which he has been targeted.

According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, the congressman's doctors will release more information on his condition soon, possibly as early as Wednesday.


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