Embattled Jackson Jr. to Stay on the Ballot
Despite illness and absence from the campaign trail, the congressman's re-election bid is still on.
"He thought he was going to be the senator -- thought he was going to have a chance to run for mayor," Jackie Jackson said. "And young people don't bounce back with disappointment like me and my husband."
Arzt, who said he vetted Jesse Jackson Sr.'s "Hymietown" mea culpa before the World Jewish Congress in Belgium, recalled another prominent case involving an absent congressman -- Adam Clayton Powell. But Jackson's situation is different, he said.
"This is not Adam Clayton Powell going to Bimini," Arzt said, referring to the 1960s scandal that occurred when the Democratic congressman from Harlem absconded to the Bahamian island to avoid paying a slander judgment to a New York woman. The yearslong political fallout ended up paving the way for Charlie Rangel to take Powell's seat. "We're all human and we all have frailties. We have our ups and downs. Jesse Jr. should be given time to heal."
Still, the timing of his absence has raised questions. A House Ethics Committee investigation is pending over allegations that Jackson discussed raising money for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for an appointment to President Barack Obama's then-U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has repeatedly denied the allegations, according to the Associated Press.
Jackson also reportedly directed a fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, to purchase plane tickets for a woman described as a "social acquaintance." The congressman and his wife have called it a personal matter. And just days before Jackson's medical leave, the AP reported, "Nayak was arrested and pleaded not guilty to unrelated medical fraud charges."
Blagojevich is serving a prison sentence for corruption. During his trial in 2010, prosecutors said that one of his fundraisers was prepared to testify that Jackson instructed Nayak to raise money for the then-governor's campaign in order to help Jackson secure the Senate seat, the AP reported. That same witness also stated that he attended a meeting with Jackson and Nayak. Jackson has denied the allegations.
For now, officials are hoping for a speedy recovery for Jackson, including Joseph Berrios, chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party and the Cook County assessor. "The chairman wishes the congressman well in his recovery," said Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for Berrios. "Right now, everyone's main concern is the health and well-being of Congressman Jackson, which should be first and foremost in everyone's mind."
Lynette Holloway is The Root's Midwest bureau chief.