Battling bipolar disorder and a federal probe into his campaign accounts, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a once-rising political star, resigned from Congress Wednesday afternoon.
Jackson submitted a letter of resignation to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in just the last few minutes, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Aides to Speaker Boehner confirm to ABC's Chicago affiliate WLS News that they have received the letter of resignation from Congressman Jackson.
Reached by ABC News Wednesday, one of Jackson's colleagues Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., said he was not surprised that Jackson had decided to leave Capitol Hill, noting that Jackson had cancelled a conference call with constituents set for Wednesday morning.
"I did get the feeling that if you've got plans to say something this morning and then you don't, that would probably indicate that you were pretty close to something," Davis said.
Jackson had planned on a press conference to announce his resignation but was not able to bring himself to speak about it because of his illness, a source told the Chicago paper.
“He couldn’t stop crying so he couldn’t give a press conference,” according to the source close to Jackson. “First, he is not well. He is up and down. When he’s up he can talk but he breaks down.”
Jackson has been absent from Congress since June 10 as he deals with both the federal investigation and mental health problems that have landed the son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson at the Mayo Clinic at least twice for treatment for bipolar depression.
Jackson's resignation comes just two weeks after voters re-elected him to a ninth full term and amid a continuing House Ethics Committee investigation into his dealings with imprisoned ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. There also have been reports of a new federal probe into possible misuse of campaign money by Jackson on personal items, including interior decorating and a luxury watch that was purchased with campaign money for a female friend.
Jackson took office in 1995 after winning a special election in a landslide. Voters in the district have said Jackson's family name and attention to local issues have been the reasons for their support. He's easily won every election since taking office and brought home close to $1 billion in federal money for his district during his tenure. This explains in part how, even this year, when Jackson was absent during the crucial final months of campaigning, he easily defeated two challengers on the ballot, Republican college professor Brian Woodworth and Independent postal worker Marcus Lewis.
As the Washington Post notes, his resignation means he will not be sworn in for the term he won in November.
The resignation will trigger a special election, which will be declared by Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and must occur within 115 days of the vacancy.
Among the names being mentioned as replacements are Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly (D), state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D) state Sen. Napoleon Harris (D), a former football player at Northwestern University and in the NFL, and Jackson’s wife, Chicago Alderwoman Sandi Jackson (D).
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the federal investigation now includes Sandi Jackson’s activities as well.