By Nova Safo, CNN
Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois resigned from office today, ending months of speculation about his future. Jackson has not been seen in public since he took a leave of absence in June to get treatment for severe bipolar depression.
In a resignation letter submitted to House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday, Jesse Jackson said, “for the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish.”
In his resignation letter, Jackson also acknowledged that he’s facing a federal investigation, saying he will accept responsibility for his “mistakes.” He did not specify what those mistakes were, but numerous reports have said that federal authorities are looking into possible misuse of campaign funds and that Jackson may be working out a plea deal to avoid jail time.
Allison Samuels, who has been following Jackson’s travails for The Daily Beast and who has spoken with people close to Jackson, said the congressman has been suffering from bipolar disorder for some time. The pressures of the recent investigation triggered his deterioration, Samuels said, and there are fears that going to jail would make him worse.
[4:29] “He’s functioning to a certain extent, but he is an emotional wreck and has been for a while. This is not something that just began. This has been going on for a very long time. So I think he learned how to function to some extent with it. But they’re very clear that if anything else happens, they seem him as just going over.”
If true, the charges against Jackson would be uncharacteristic of the career Chicagoans have known. For almost 20 years, he’s represented a district comprised of a broad swath of the southern suburbs around Chicago. He had enjoyed a stellar reputation for being above corruption, according to David Morrison, deputy director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
[5:05] “He has supported candidates who ran clean campaigns, who ran clean offices and who often took on dirty or ethically challenged incumbents. There are a number of fights between him and some other soutside politicians who were known for steering contracts or playing patronage games and Jackson and his allies stood up to that and helped to push back against that.”
Under state law, a special election must now be held within 115 days to fill Jackson’s seat.