Jesse Jackson Jr. Resigns From Congress

Illinois congressman calls it quits amid reports of coming plea deal

David Jackson protests outside Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s office in Chicago, Dec. 13, 2008.
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Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson resigned from Congress Wednesday.

Jackson's brother, Jonathan Jackson, told the Chicago Tribune by telephone midday Wednesday that Jackson was sending a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, making it official.

Boehner's office confirmed to U.S. News it received the letter of resignation.

"For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy and life to public service," Jackson said in his resignation letter. “However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues… I know that will not be possible.”

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Jackson has been absent from Congress since June and announced over the summer he was battling bipolar disorder. He had been receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

In addition to dealing with his mental health, Jackson is also under investigation by the FBI and the House Ethics Committee for allegedly using campaign funds to redecorate his home and engaging in a "pay to play" scheme to win appointment to President Barack Obama's Senate seat.

While Jackson failed to hit the campaign trail this election cycle, the congressman won re-election by a landslide in the 2nd Congressional District. He represented the district beginning in 1995.

Jesse Jackson Jr. with father Rev. Jesse Jackson on Capitol Hill, Jan. 7, 1997.
Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn will be responsible for calling a special election to replace Jackson.

According to CBS News, Jackson is negotiating a plea deal with the government to handle his ethics violations and hired white-collar defense attorney Dan Webb. A deal reportedly could have involved Jackson resigning and serving time in jail.

“During this journey I have made my share of mistakes,” Jackson said in his resignation letter. “I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly.”

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Former Illinois Democratic Rep. Debbie Halvorson -- who challenged Jackson in a bitter Democratic primary this year -- told U.S. News she has been concerned about Jackson's health, but is "excited" the district will be represented soon. 

Halvorson said she hasn't decided if she will again seek to represent the 2nd Congressional District.

“It is just happening. I haven’t made up my mind either way,” Halvorson says. “I am excited to think that the district might have a representative soon.”

Read Jackson's resignation letter:

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