Citing federal medical privacy laws, Jackson’s office said late Wednesday that it would not release specific details about the congressman’s condition or location. But a statement from the office citing an unnamed physician said Jackson, 47, “is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder. He is responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.”
Jackson’s office disputed rumors about his condition and a report by NBC News that cited friends who said Jackson is being treated for alcohol- and addiction-related problems at a facility in Arizona.
The disclosure came on the same day that House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.)became the most senior House Democrat to appeal to Jackson for more information. Hoyer told reporters that Jackson and his family “would be well advised” to tell constituents about his medical condition and lengthy absence. The statement echoed sentiments expressed in recent days by Jackson’s Illinois congressional colleagues.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the state’s senior lawmaker, said Wednesday that the congressman “has a responsibility as a public official to tell us what the situation is.”
“I want him to get well. He’s got a beautiful young family and I want him to get well and be home with them,” Durbin said in an interview. “But when we accept this responsibility in public life, we have a burden to be more open about our private lives than most people.”
Others, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said Jackson’s timeline for publicizing more about his condition should be dictated by his medical needs.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, also cited medical privacy laws as a reason Jackson didn’t need to disclose more information. He added that CBC members were “amazed” at the sustained uninformed speculation about the congressman.
“This is about a human being who’s sick. This is not a political matter, it’s a health matter,” Cleaver said. He said later that Jackson “is fine” and will “definitely” return to Congress.
Last month, Jackson waited more than two weeks before publicly announcing that he had been on a medical leave since June 10. His office said last week that he was struggling with “physical and emotional ailments” worse than previously known. Jackson’s last recorded vote was June 8, according to The Washington Post Congressional Votes Database.
Elected to the House in 1994, Jackson represents Illinois’s 2nd Congressional District, an area encompassing parts of Cook and Will counties and Chicago’s southern suburbs. He has been under investigation by the House ethics committee in recent years regarding allegations that he improperly raised money for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (D) in an effort to win appointment to the Senate seat formerly held by President Obama.