Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Still Has Capitol Hill Allies, but Support is Waning

Even has he negotiates a plea deal, some lawmakers stand by Rep. Jesse Jackson.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. stands accused of a growing list of improprieties and is reportedly negotiating a plea deal.
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Even as Democratic Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. battles mental illness and fights allegations of a "pay to play" scheme to win a Senate seat, along with charges he allegedly used campaign funds to purchase lavish personal items, a handful of lawmakers continue to stand by his side.

Jackson, who was absent from the campaign trail, but won re-election in his congressional district with more than 60 percent of the vote, has a strong contingent of supporters left on Capitol Hill.

Fellow Democratic Illinois Rep. Danny Davis says that while Jackson faces mounting problems, it's hard to believe his long-time friend would have engaged in such behavior. Jackson is accused of purchasing a $40,000 Rolex and redecorating his home with campaign finances.

"If he were functioning not in an altered mental or emotional state, he would not have committed those acts," Davis says. "They don't seem like something that a rational Jesse Jackson would have been engaged in. That's not the person I knew."

[RELATED: Roland Burris Defends Jackson Against 'Wolf Pack']

According to CBS News, Jackson has hired well-known, white-collar defense attorney Dan Webb as he negotiates a plea deal with the government, which could force him to give up his House seat and require him to serve time in prison.

Davis is one of two Illinois lawmakers who has visited Jackson since he underwent treatment for bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and hasn't been in touch with Jackson since visiting him at his Washington, D.C., home in late October.

Davis says he remains "hopeful" Jackson can return to Congress to serve his constituents, who have grown irritated by his prolonged absence.

"Many of them are frustrated. And almost anyone would be," Davis says. "They have had such high hopes, and of course Rep. Jackson has amassed a great deal of seniority, and has won placement for very strategic committee assignments, and all of that plays into their hopes that he will be able to bring the bacon home."

[READ: Jackson Jr.'s Staff Still Legislating in His Absence]

While some lawmakers are supportive, they are demanding more of Jackson.

Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin has said he'd like to see Jackson come forward and lay out a plan for when he will return to serve his constituents.

"I think the situation has reached the point where he needs to come out and publicly speak, and answer some basic questions about what he's been through," Durbin told CBS News. "I'm very sympathetic to the mental illness which he's struggling with, but I also understand he has public responsibilities and obligations here."

U.S. Rep.-elect Bill Foster agrees that Jackson must speak up.

"This is something where, for a few weeks, letting someone alone to deal with these very complex problems is the right thing to do, but over time the balance shifts, and he owes it to his constituents, with an increasing urgency, to make a clear statement," Foster says.

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Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News & World Report. She can be reached at lfox@usnews.com or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.