by Don Babwin
Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO (AP)—The wife of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. declined to answer questions Wednesday about the medical leave of absence her husband is taking, saying only that she loves him and is focused on providing for their children. Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson initially avoided camera crews and other reporters waiting outside the Chicago City Council chambers, though she later decided to make a brief statement before departing.
“I think it’s important to say that I love my husband very much. That’s the first thing,” she said. “The second thing is that as a wife, my primary concern is that my children, I just want to make sure that they’re taken care of, provided for.”
Earlier this week, the congressman’s office disclosed that he has been on medical leave for two weeks and is being treated for exhaustion. The office did not provide any details, including how long he would be away.
The disclosure was the latest incident in what has been a troubling time for Jackson. He is the target of a U.S. House Ethics Committee investigation of allegations that he was involved in discussions about raising money for then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign in exchange for Blagojevich appointing him to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
Jackson also allegedly directed a fundraiser and longtime friend, Raghuveer Nayak, to buy plane tickets for a woman described as Jackson’s “social acquaintance.” Jackson has since called it a personal matter that he has dealt with privately with his wife.
Jackson, 47, has not been charged and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
After Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who knows both the Jacksons after having served in Congress before he was elected mayor, said he has talked to the alderman since the news that her husband was taking a leave of absence.
“She is trying to hold her family together, she is dealing with a very difficult situation, with two children, and my thoughts are with her and her family as a whole,” he told reporters. “And that’s what I care about.”