Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in 'news blackout'

Aug. 4, 2012 at 9:49 PM
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CHICAGO, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Chicago Alderwoman Sandi Jackson, wife of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., told the Sun-Times her husband has been "completely debilitated by depression."

In an interview published Saturday by the Sun-Times, Sandi Jackson said her husband, who has been absent from Congress since June, has not been treated for alcohol or drug addiction and has not attempted suicide.

"No, no, none of that is true," Sandi Jackson said of the rumors that have circulated since her husband collapsed in their Washington home June 10.

She said Jackson has been in a "news blackout" since his collapse, which she referred to "D-Day."

Jackson's office said in June he was absent on medical leave for treatment for exhaustion. His office said in a statement July 11 he was receiving inpatient treatment for a "mood disorder" but did not say where. His office had not disclosed further information on his condition, citing medical privacy.

Last week the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., issued a statement indicating Jackson had arrived for "extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues." Jackson lost 50 pounds after undergoing gastric bypass surgery in 2005.

"What I can tell you is my husband has his good days and bad days and they are increasing his depression medication to therapeutic levels," Jackson told the Sun-Times.

"They are now trying to find out if his depression, which has not yet been diagnosed as a bipolar disorder, is connected to the weight-loss surgery. We don't know."

"I fully expect him to return to work, but not a day before the doctor says it's OK. That's the word we are waiting for.

"It's all up in the air. Jesse has his ups and downs. And although he has talked about teaching, he's focusing on going back to work. Back to his job. He is a gifted legislator. But the bottom line is family comes first and my husband's health is paramount."

The U.S. House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations a friend of Jackson's, Raghuveer Nayak, offered as much as $6 million in campaign funds to Rod Blagojevich -- who was Illinois' governor at the time but is currently serving a 14-year prison term for corruption. In exchange, Blagojevich was to appoint Jackson to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he was elected president.

Jackson has said he had no knowledge of the alleged matter.

"We decided to impose a news blackout during his treatment to enable him to heal," Sandi Jackson told the Sun-Times, adding reports of her husband being upset over Nayak's indictment "can't be true" because Nayak was arrested June 20. "He doesn't know anything about the indictment," she said.

Nayak is charged with fraud in the operation of his surgical centers.

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