After five months of being politically “missing in action,” Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was close to addressing his staff for the first time on Wednesday — but backpedaled, apparently still not yet ready to speak publicly.
The South Shore Democrat’s top aides gave conflicting reports late Tuesday on whether Jackson had planned to address his workers in a conference call and email on Wednesday, as a TV station reported.
But ultimately, they agreed it was not going to happen.
Rick Bryant, Jackson’s chief of staff, insisted Jackson had no plans to “break his silence” Wednesday.
“We’re not having a conference call tomorrow, no,” Bryant told the Chicago Sun-Times.
But Frank Watkins, Jackson’s spokesman, said his boss had planned to speak, but changed his mind.
“There was a conference call. I was informed the congressman was going to have a conference call with the staff at 10 a.m.,” Watkins said Tuesday night.
“All I know it was a conference call, and the congressman was going to speak to the staff,” he said.
But a few hours later he was told that the call was off.
“Chief of Staff … Rick Bryant informed me the call was cancelled,” Watkins said.
The only word from Jackson since he went on medical leave for a bipolar disorder in June was an automated robo-call to voters during his successful re-election campaign.
According to Fox 32 News, Jackson had planned to participate in “a conference call at both his Washington D.C. and Chicago offices with some workers, while others will receive an e-mail about his future plans in politics — and possibly the details of his plea bargain with the federal government.”
Jackson’s whereabouts have been somewhat of a mystery.
Jackson’s representatives made special note to tell the public that he was returning to Mayo Clinic before the Nov. 6 election.
But a Mayo Clinic spokesman on Tuesday said the congressman has not been at the facility — on an in-patient or out-patient basis — since Nov. 13.
Last week, the clinic, in Rochester, Minn., released a statement on Jackson’s behalf. It said he was no longer a patient, but “continues to cope with bipolar II disorder and will remain under the care of physicians as part of his ongoing treatment to manage and treat depression.”
But it’s not clear where Jackson is receiving that, presumably out-patient, care. On Tuesday a Mayo spokesman said the famed institution was “not seeing him in any capacity at this time.”
Jackson has not provided further communication on his whereabouts.
In October, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed Jackson was under scrutiny by federal authorities as part of a probe into the congressman’s finances. And columnist Michael Sneed disclosed that Jackson is discussing a possible plea deal with prosecutors.