Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. has been absent from Congress since June, reportedly suffering from health issues related to bi-polar disorder. After returning to Washington following treatment at the Mayo Clinic, he has remained in seclusion, leaving his constituents and fellow members guessing as to when — or if — he’ll return.
Now comes word that the FBI has opened an investigation into the congressman’s finances. This probe is in addition to an Ethics Committee investigation into whether the congressman tried to buy the Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama from impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008.
Spelling potentially new trouble for U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., federal investigators have launched a probe into the South Shore congressman’s finances — a completely new area of scrutiny, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The investigation — based in the Washington, D.C., FBI field office — is not related to the attempted sale of the U.S. Senate seat that figured in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s corruption conviction, but is focusing on “suspicious activity” involving the congressman’s finances related to his House seat and the possibility of inappropriate expenditures, sources said.
The probe was active in the weeks prior to Jackson taking a leave from his U.S. House post on June 10, a leave his office ultimately attributed to his need for treatment for a bipolar disorder, the sources said.
It was unclear whether the probe involved the congressman’s official House spending account or his campaign finance account. But one source said it was an account monitored by Congress.
All members of the U.S. House receive an allowance to operate offices in Washington and in their districts. The allowances for rank-and-file members ranged from $1.4 million to $2 million in 2010, according to the House website.
Jackson’s congressional spokesman Frank Watkins said he was unaware of any investigation, had no comment and had no immediate way to get a hold of the congressman.
One of Jackson’s attorney’s, Paul Langer, repeatedly said “no comment,” when asked whether Jackson was under investigation related to his finances.
When asked if he was still representing Jackson or if he had retained another attorney, Langer said:
“I can’t even comment on that.”
Jackson is on the November ballot and the two candidates opposing him have been sounding off about his absence. But it seems likely that Jackson will win re-election next month and have to face questions about his finances in addition to the inquiry over his alleged attempt to purchase Obama’s old Senate seat.