The other shoe in the stunning fall of one of Chicago’s most powerful and glamorous couples dropped yesterday, when Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s wife, Sandi Jackson, resigned from the Chicago City Council, just weeks after her husband resigned from Congress.
In the resignation letter she sent to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Jackson cited “very painful family health matters” without much elaboration. As recently as last month, she had declared that she wouldn’t be leaving her position, to which she was elected in 2007, “unless something catastrophic happens.”
Rep. Jackson resigned his seat just two weeks after his resounding victory in the 2nd District, which he has represented since 1995. He won 63 percent of the vote despite disappearing from public view back in June, and had been treated at a facility in Arizona and at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues.
In addition to his health problems, Jackson also faces an FBI investigation into alleged misuse of campaign funds. According to reports, he is in negotiations over a plea deal that could result in jail time. The FBI is probing Jackson’s alleged use of campaign funds to decorate his home and to buy a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. There were reports that the investigation had expanded to include his wife. Investigators reportedly are scrutinizing whether she was aware of or complicit in her husband’s alleged misuse of campaign money.
But Sandi Jackson made no reference to any of the FBI matters in her statement.
“I value the public trust which has been bestowed upon me and take my responsibility to safeguard the interests of my constituents seriously,” wrote Jackson, whose resignation is effective Tuesday. “Likewise, I am unapologetically a wife and a mother and I cannot deny my commitment to those most important personal responsibilities.”
Sandi Jackson’s name had been circulating in Chicago as a candidate to take over her husband’s seat, but last month she said she wasn’t interested.
Two years ago, Sandi Jackson talked about her husband’s affair with a blond Washington hostess, saying she was sticking by him. She said he had told her about the affair two years earlier.
“He said it was over. I was mortified and in agony,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times, “but he knew if I found out any other way it would be over.”
She told Essence the revelation was followed by sleepless nights and hair loss. “I told him I would only consider staying if we got into therapy.”
“You know, when the Clintons ran into marital trouble, I thought, ‘Hillary should leave Bill,’ ” she said. “I couldn’t stand what Tiger Woods did and how his wife had to suffer publicly. But when the ‘beast’ lands at your door, it can be a very, very different experience. No one really knows what they are going to do until they are in that situation.”
Jackson said she would stay focused on their children, ages 12 and 9. There are people in worse situations, she said. “Mine is a matter of the heart. For many it’s a matter of survival. My heart will heal.”
Before being elected to the City Council, Jackson, who also owned a political consulting firm, served as deputy director of training for the Democratic National Committee, director of scheduling operations for Rev. Jesse Jackson, vice president of Congressional and external affairs for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (appointed by Bill Clinton), director of VIP relations for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, national outreach coordinator for the Clinton/Gore 96 Campaign.