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Concern Over Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Absence as His Father Speaks Out

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Add Rep. Luis Gutierrez to the list of Illinois Democrats waiting to hear from Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) on his whereabouts.

On Tuesday, Gutierrez told reporters that Jackson should be more transparent about his medical situation since he took a leave of absence for “exhaustion” on June 10.

“I think that he has a responsibility to give us more information,” Gutierrez said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I’m not demanding that information. But I think the people of his Congressional district deserve it. The people of Illinois deserve it. If he’s going to stand for re-election.”

Gutierrez’s words came as speculation increased over Jackson’s condition. Jackson’s office has not released information on him since Thursday. An email request for additional information from his office was not returned.

Last year, tensions ran high between Gutierrez and Jackson after the decennial redraw of the state’s Congressional map. Jackson angered Gutierrez when he sought answers about whether the state’s burgeoning Hispanic population required a second majority House district.

On Monday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also called for more information from Jackson “soon.”

This morning, Jackson’s father, Rainbow PUSH Coalition President the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., told a Chicago radio station that if Durbin wants to know more about the medical status of junior, he should contact senior.

The reverend noted that he has long supported the political career of Durbin and signaled that he would be willing to talk about his son’s health.

“If he really wants more, he could call me. He could call the office, and we could talk about it.” Rev. Jackson told WBEZ radio. “I think it’s not appropriate to go any further at this point.”

Jackson Sr. added that he expected his son’s doctors to provide additional information “soon.”

Rev. Jackson provided few details about his son’s medical status, except to say that he remained under the care of doctors and that his condition was improving, noting that as a father, his primary interest was his son’s health.

“The good news for me now is that he is a regaining his strength,” Jackson Sr. said.

He also told the radio station that he last spoke with his son a few days ago, describing his voice as “strong.”

Durbin told reporters in Chicago on Monday that he was “concerned” about the lack of information on Jackson. He differentiated the secrecy surrounding Jackson’s medical condition with the regular updates provided by the office of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).

“There reaches a point when you have a responsibility to tell people what you’re facing and how things are going,” Durbin said. “Sen. Kirk has done that, and I think Congressman Jackson will face that, too.”

Emily Pierce contributed to this report.

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