U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who was hospitalized at an undisclosed location about two weeks ago, has not been heard from and neither his spokesman nor family is talking.
Today, Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, called on Jackson and his handlers to give a public update as to his condition and whereabouts. Durbin says Jackson has a responsibility to provide his constituents information about his mysterious medical leave.
"As a public official, there comes a point when you have a responsibility to tell the public what's going on," Durbin said. "If there is some medical necessity for him not to say more at this moment than I will defer to that. But he will have to soon make a report on what he's struggling with."
Jackson's office originally said last month that the congressman was being treated for exhaustion. Then, last week, staff members said Jackson's condition was more serious than first thought and required treatment at an inpatient medical facility. A statement said Jackson also had been grappling privately with emotional issues for some time, according to an AP report published Monday.
Jackson spokesman Frank Watkins would not answer questions Monday, and Jackson's father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, said his son's medical condition is a private matter. Jackson's congressional colleagues, including the Black Caucus, also had no answers.
Monday, Durbin reminded that Sen. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican who suffered a stroke earlier this year, provided regular updates about his condition including interviews with his doctors and a video showing his physical rehabilitation progress. The video "answered hundreds of questions" for voters, according to Durbin.
Jackson, 47, was initially easily elected and has much name recognition, but he had to campaign hard in his Illinois' primary this year against a credible challenger.
The congressman has garnered much attention in the past few years, both private and public. A House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations that Jackson was involved in discussions about raising money for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for Blagojevich appointing him to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption.
In a related controversy, a former fundraiser for Jackson and Blagojevich, Raghuveer Nayak, pleaded not guilty to unrelated federal medical fraud charges last month. Prosecutors at Blagojevich's 2010 corruption trial had said another Blagojevich fundraiser was ready to testify that Jackson instructed Nayak to raise money for Blagojevich's campaign to help him secure the Senate seat.
That witness later testified that he attended a meeting with Jackson and Nayak.
Additionally, Jackson allegedly directed Nayak to buy plane tickets for a woman described as the congressman's "social acquaintance." Jackson has called his “social acquaintance” a personal matter that he and his wife have dealt with privately.