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Politics

Amid federal inquiries, Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves House

Jesse Jackson Jr. has been treated for gastrointestinal issues and bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic.

REUTERS/File

Jesse Jackson Jr. has been treated for gastrointestinal issues and bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic.

CHICAGO — US Representatiave Jesse Jackson Jr. quietly resigned Wednesday, effectively ending a once-promising political career months after the civil rights icon’s son went on a mysterious medical leave while facing separate federal inquiries.

Just two weeks after voters reelected him to a ninth full term, Jackson sent his letter of resignation to House Speaker John Boehner, citing his ongoing treatment for bipolar disorder and admitting ‘‘my share of mistakes.’’

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The House Ethics Committee is investigating his dealings with imprisoned former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, and for the first time Jackson publicly acknowledged reports of a new federal inquiry thought to be reviewing his possible misuse of campaign money.

‘‘I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes,’’ he wrote, adding ‘‘they are my mistakes and mine alone.’’

Jackson, 47, disappeared in June, and it was later revealed that he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. He returned to his Washington home in September but went back to the clinic the next month, with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, saying his son had not yet ‘‘regained his balance.’’

Attempts to find Jackson were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Jackson first took office in 1995 after winning a special election in a largely urban and Democratic district and began his career in Washington with a star power and pedigree that set him apart from his hundreds of other House colleagues.

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But despite high expectations, he largely went un­noticed as a policy maker. Instead, he gained a reputation for quixotic pursuits such as trying to impeach President George W. Bush and push through constitutional amendments that had no chance.

He attended an elite private school in Washington and earned a law degree and a master’s in theology.

Over the years he boasted about spending his 21st birthday in jail after being arrested in an antiapartheid protest, co-wrote books with his father, and developed his own charismatic speaking style.

Shortly after taking office, he was deemed People magazine’s Sexiest Politician in 1997 and became one of the most outspoken and most quoted liberals in the House.

There was a near-Hollywood buzz over his svelte new figure in 2005 when he quietly dropped 50 pounds, disclosing months later that he had had weight-loss surgery.

Perhaps his shining moment as a Democratic leader was in 2008, when Jackson served as the national co-chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He had his sights set on US senator or Chicago’s mayor.

Then came Blagojevich.

Though never charged, Jackson had to repeatedly dodge allegations that he was involved in talks about raising campaign funds for the now-jailed former governor in trade for appointment to Obama’s vacated US Senate seat.

Jackson — who testified at Blagojevich’s second corruption trial — has always maintained that he was innocent and that his name would be cleared.

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