No word on when Jesse Jackson Jr. will return to work - FOX 32 News Chicago

No word on when Jesse Jackson Jr. will return to work

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Photo courtesy of the Associated Press. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Questions still loom one day after U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s office announced in a news release that the congressman has been on a medical leave of absence since June 10 and is being treated for exhaustion.

The statement, just three sentences long, did not provide further details, including how long he would be away. The statement also said his offices will remain open for constituent services.

"I don't know how long he'll be out of action," said Frank Watkins, Jackson's spokesman.

Congressman Danny Davis says no one should read anything into Jackson's leave of absence.

"I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt," said Davis.

Davis says he thinks its very possible the hot weather contributed to Jackson's leave of absence." He says he had not seen Jackson for a couple weeks, and had no contact with him on the issue.

Jackson first won office in 1995 and represents Illinois' 2nd District, which includes neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side and south suburbs.

He is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, facing allegations that he was involved in discussions about raising money for then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for an appointment to President Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat.

Jackson also allegedly directed a fundraiser to buy plane tickets for a woman described by an associate as Jackson's "social acquaintance." The issue came up on the campaign trail during Jackson's 2010 re-election and in the March primary, which the Democrat easily won. Jackson has since called it a personal matter that he and his wife have dealt with privately.

Jackson has not been charged. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and insists he will be vindicated.

The congressman's associate and well known political fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, was in federal court earlier this month on fraud charges involving his surge rival centers.

The congressman's attorney, Paul Langer, told FOX Chicago News, "[The leave of absence] has nothing to do with either the arrest or indictment of Mr. Nayak, or anything else to do with Nayak."    

As for Jackson being exhausted, he is known as a hard worker and a frequent traveler. In the last year, trips paid for by private donors included trips to Jerusalem, North Carolina, and a trip to Rochester, New York in early May. Records regarding any recent trips paid for by taxpayers are not available.

His father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, was out of the country Monday and declined to comment on the matter. Messages left for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, were not immediately returned.

Brian Woodworth, the Republican from Bourbanais who's running against Jackson in the November election for Congress, told FOX Chicago News he's not focusing on the news. He said he hasn't made a campaign issue out of Jackson's ties to the Blagojevich scandal, and he won't be making an issue of his medical leave.

"At this point, I don't see it meaning much for me...but my position is, I don't wish ill on anybody, including an opponent in this run, and my family is going to keep him and his family in our prayers and hope for a speedy recovery," Woodworth said.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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