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Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves Mayo Clinic

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 12:22 am •  Published: November 13, 2012
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The congressman had returned to the hospital amid reports that he faced a new federal investigation into potential misuse of his campaign finances. The Chicago Sun-Times first reported the probe, citing anonymous sources. An FBI spokesman in Washington, Andrew Ames, told The Associated Press he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of federal investigation into Jackson.

Jackson was easily re-elected on Nov. 6 representing his heavily-Democratic district, even though his only communication with voters was a robocall asking them for patience. He spent election night at the Mayo Clinic, but later issued a statement thanking his supporters and saying he was waiting for his doctors' OK before he could "continue to be the progressive fighter" they'd known for years.

The timing of the leave and the way it was handled has invited scrutiny. Jackson's leave was announced just after a former fundraiser connected to the Blagojevich allegations was arrested on unrelated medical fraud charges.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating reports that Jackson and his associates discussed raising money for Blagojevich in exchange for the then-governor appointing Jackson to President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich is now imprisoned on corruption charges that accused him among other things of trying to sell the seat.

On Tuesday, Quinn became the latest elected official to urge Jackson to speak publicly. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday called on Jackson to let constituents know his post-election plans. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said reports of a new probe were troubling but he didn't have all the facts.

The uncertainty about Jackson's future prompted more talk of potential successors if he should step down. If that happens, the governor would have to call a special election.

Prominent Chicago attorney Sam Adam Jr., who once represented Blagojevich and R&B Singer R. Kelly, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday that he's considering a run for the seat.

Also, some leaders in Jackson's district — which includes some Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs — said they wanted to push forward on his pet project of a third airport in the Chicago area without the congressman.