Update: July 11, 2012, 8:56 PM
The mystery involving Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. got even stranger on Wednesday when his office released a statement purporting to be from an anonymous doctor who said the congressman is in treatment for an unnamed “mood disorder.”
The Chicago Democrat, who is running for reelection in November, has been missing from action for weeks. His staff announced on June 25 that he was on medical leave for “exhaustion,” but they have declined to say where he is or whether he will return.
In recent days, the disappearance has prompted several of his fellow Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to call on Jackson and his office to tell voters exactly what is happening.But instead of quelling rumors late Wednesday, his staff deepened the mystery even more. They released a statement about his condition that was just as vague as the previous ones.
The statement included a quote from what the office said was Jackson’s doctor. But citing federal medical privacy laws, it declined to name the doctor or tell Jackson’s whereabouts.
“The Congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder,” the quote said. “He is responding positively to treatment.”
Earlier in the day, an aide to Jackson denied an NBC News report that said the congressman was being treated for alcoholism at a rehab facility in Arizona. “Not true!” aide Rick Bryant wrote in an email to TPM. The statement from Jackson’s office reiterated the denial.
Adding to the unusual circumstances is that Jackson’s longtime fundraiser and friend, Raghuveer Nayak, was arrested by the FBI four days before the congressman’s office announced the medical leave.
There is no indication the investigation into Nayak has anything to do with Jackson. The fundraiser was charged with bribing doctors in connection with his medical business. However, Nayak has been a thorn in the congressman’s side for years after linking him to the scandal that sent former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to prison for 14 years.
Authorities have said Nayak offered to funnel at least $1 million into the governor’s campaign if Blagojevich would appoint Jackson to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama’s election to the presidency.
Jackson has denied wrongdoing and has never been charged with a crime. Congressional ethics investigators are still looking into the matter.
Jackson won his party’s primary in March with more than 71 percent of the vote and is scheduled to face Republican challenger Brian Woodworth in November.
Ed note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the statement from Jackson’s office was made on Wednesday.