Rep. Gutierrez pressures Jesse Jackson Jr. to explain leave of absence

Rep. Luis Gutierrez on Tuesday added his voice to a growing number of Illinois Democrats publicly calling on fellow Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to offer constituents more information about his leave of absence from Congress.

"I know that we want to say that we have private lives, and I do have a private life. I also have a public life," Gutierrez told reporters at an unrelated news conference Tuesday, according to news reports. "If I don't show up to work, then I need to give-- I don't have this immunity or this shield of privacy-- because it's about my job. And any time I haven't shown up to work, I've given you a clear answer about why it was I wasn't there."

Gutierrez issued those comments  one day after Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois told reporters Jackson will "have to soon make a report on what he's struggling with."

On June 25, Jackson's office first revealed that the  congressman had been on a "medical leave of absence" from Congress due to exhaustion since June 10. No additional details were offered until July 5, when Jackson's staff announced that the congressman was at an "inpatient medical facility" and  his undisclosed condition was "more serious" than originally assumed.

Jackson's family, colleagues and staff have offered no additional information. His father, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, on Tuesday told NBC Chicago it would be "inappropriate" to disclose details.

He is "slowly regaining his strength, on his medical supervision, and he's taking his time recovering, and of course we pray for him," his father said.

An anonymous aide told the Chicago Sun-Times further details could be released as soon as Wednesday.

An anonymous senior aide close to the congressman told ABC News Tuesday that Jackson is unlikely to return before Labor Day and denied a rumor that Jackson's absence follows a suicide attempt. But the source did say the pressure related to ethics allegations against Jackson is partially responsible for his exhaustion.

The House Ethics Committee has been investigating Jackson for his alleged connections to the potentially improper process of filling the Senate seat formerly held by Barack Obama.

Jackson's former fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, was indicted June 20 on 19 counts of fraud related to surgery centers he owns. Nayak was charged with paying bribes and kickbacks to doctors who sent patients to his centers. Nayak pleaded not guilty.

Previously, Nayak allegedly told federal investigators that Jackson asked him to raise money for Gov. Rod Blagojevich to persuade him to appoint Jackson to the Senate.

In addition to those ethics issues, Jackson has had his personal affairs played out in public. In 2010, Jackson's wife Sandi Jackson confirmed her husband was having an extramarital affair following news reports that Jackson had asked Nayak to buy plane tickets for the woman.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Sabrina Allen is shown in this photo provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
PHOTO: Adam Sandler arrives at the premiere of Men, Women & Children at The Directors Guild of America, Sept. 30, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP Photo
Lovable Panda Triplets Get Named
ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
PHOTO: Video recorded Sept. 21, 2014 in Okanogan County, Wash. shows a black bear scratching its back against a tree.
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife