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Activists Ponder their Next Move

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Blacks were instrumental in the re-election of President Barack Obama and now it’s time for him to return the favor, according to panelists at a Town Hall-style meeting organized at Howard University last week by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century.

“Every time we vote for any politician there is something that they owe to us,” said civil rights activist, Mtangulizi Sanyika. “Our problem is that we get confused about what they owe us. The conditions of African Americans have gotten worse not better. There are things we need and we should fight for them.”

Julianne Malveaux, an economist and former president of Bennett College said the issue is larger than politicians.

“The economic crisis of African American people did not start with President Obama and it won’t end with President Obama,” she said “While the government can’t fix the gap it, can do some things to narrow the gap.”

Malveaux urged Blacks to become more creative and do things such as applying for federal discretionary funds to launch a green energy startup.

At times, the moderator, former Essence magazine editor Susan Taylor, pushed panelists for greater detail for a plan of action.

“How do we make this happen?” she asked. “What is the nucleus of this?”

Taylor was unrelenting: “What is the organizing force? How do we move beyond the discussion, so that when we come back four years from now we’re not talking about the same issues. How do we begin to move the needle?”

George Fraser, chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc. a global networking company dedicated to economic development, said, “We have a lot of PhDs. Now we need some ‘Ph dos.’”

Taylor said that Black churches, fraternities, and sororities need to do more.

“Unfortunately, the majority of our church leadership can’t do what you ask to be done,” said Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Wilson said that the prosperity theology is dividing congregations and that many ministers still struggle with pathologies that date back to slavery.

Jeff Johnson said, “I don’t care about the civil rights celebrities. I don’t care about the prosperity pastors. I care about the people that want to do the work.”

Johnson said that there are simple solutions to get kids off the streets while Blacks deal with long-term loftier goals.

“We don’t have to do one or the other, it’s about doing all of them together,” Johnson said. “We have to play chess, not checkers.” He explained Chess means you figure out the role you play and you play it.

“And when a pawn is gangster enough to do their job and can move into position, they can become any other piece on the board. Let’s do simple things in the process of developing these solutions,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that Blacks should utilize our churches as community centers rather than seeking funds to build new ones and rely on retired teachers and volunteers from our neighborhoods to mentor children.

They all agreed that what is not needed is a new civil rights group.

“We’re at this moment where people feel like they don’t need organizations,” said Marc Lamont Hill, a TV host, activist and associate professor at the Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York. Hill urged audience members to join existing organizations.

“We don’t need any more organizations, we don’t need 50 million non-profits. We don’t need 50 million NGOs,” said Hill. “We need people to make a commitment to join an organization to do the work.

Taylor agreed.

“Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray,” said Taylor. “We have to do the work.”

Black Candidates Ride Obama Wave in Louisiana

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By Christopher Tidmore
Special to the NNPA from The Louisiana Weekly

Election 2012 showed that the Democratic Party is alive and well nationwide but still anemic in Louisiana. At least for Caucasians.

For African-American candidates in the Pelican State, Nov­ember 6, 2012 was one of the best election nights in years. Black candidates led in swing or white-majority areas through­out Louisiana—from Kip Holden’s winning a third term in Baton Rouge to African-American neighborhood activist LaToya Cantrell leading Caucasian Juvenile Justice activist Dana Kaplan the field in the Orleans District B race, 38 percent to 32 percent.

Nationally, though, Mitt Romney won fewer votes than John McCain four years ago. His showing here in Louisiana was worse as well. Romney won the Pelican State 59 percent to 40 percent , a victory of nearly 400,000 votes, down narrowly from 60 percent won by John McCain. It was only lower overall national turnout that narrowed the final vote margin between the two men — 11 percent lower in Texas and seven percent smaller in Maryland (which played a role in the victory of the same-sex marriage amendment according to exit polls.) The fewer voters narrowed the race to less than two points, rather than seven point margin Obama enjoyed in 2008.

That is in almost every state but Louisiana. Pelican State voter turnout soared higher than four years ago. Contentious races like Orleans City Council District E, where Austin Badon and James Gray head to a December 8 runoff, brought 25,000 more voters to the polls in New Orleans alone. (70 percent versus 67 percent in 2008). Those extra votes went directly to Obama, improving his 782,989 votes, or 39.93 percent of the votes cast in the 2008 to 808,496 in 2012. (The President won Orleans Parish this year by a margin of almost 75,000 votes.)

And, they played a direct role in the surprise primary victories in several white-Black Orleans contests, notably the Second District Court battles for Clerk and Constable. Darren Lombard rode higher African-American turnout to a 51 percent total, denying a much expected runoff position for Clerk of Court aspirant Adam Lambert. And, longtime Algiers Constable Ennis Grundmeyer lost his job narrowly to newcomer Edwin Shorty by just over 200 votes or 49-51 percent.

The Louisiana surge in the African-American vote defeated long-time School Board member Lourdes Moran 52-48 percent by nearly 800 votes. The victory of educational consultant Leslie Ellison, can be traced to larger turnout in the challenger’s African-American home pre­cincts in Algiers.

And, Thomas Robichaux, the first openly gay member of the Orleans School Board and its President, went down to defeat as the Ninth Ward-centered Seventh District reasserted its African-American majority, electing Nolan Marshall.

It did not matter that both of these incumbents were active supporters of returning local control to the OPSB from the RSD, and both played a vocal role in the fight to keep SUNO from merging with UNO. They could not fight the tide for Black candidates in Orleans—provided mostly by the President’s coattails.

Only Jason Coleman in OPSB District 6 and Karran Harper Royal in District 3 came up short. Both OPSB seats possess a white Majority, though. Incumbent Democrat Woody Koppel won with 67 percent in the former, yet Republican incumbent Brett Bonin went down to defeat in the latter with only 33 percent of the vote, losing to white Democrat Sarah Newell Usdin. The result telegraphed that the Obama coattails directed two-thirds of the vote to Democrats in this GOP-leaning seat (when Royal’s 10 percent is factored in as well).

The Beleaguered National GOP

President Barack Obama’s core constituencies across the United States turned out in numbers surpassing 2008—especially His­panics, even as the popular vote declined.

In key demographics, the electorate actually likely skewed more Democratic/liberal than four years ago. Caucasians declined from 74 percent in 2008 to 72 percent this year, Latinos increased from nine percent to 10 percent, African-Americans came out in roughly the same numbers despite pundits who predicted they would not — 13 percent in 2008 to 13 percent in 2012. Female voters went from 53 percent to 54 percent of the electorate, and low-income voters, those earning less than $50,000 per year, went from 38 percent four years ago to 41 percent last Tuesday. Perhaps most extraordinarily, younger voters increased from 18 percent to 19 percent.

Other demographic changes worked against Republicans as well. For example, single women now outnumber married women in the national electorate, and they favored Obama by roughly 30 points. The gender gap overall was bigger this year than in 2008. And, despite pundits muttering about youth dissatisfaction, those under 21 comprised more of the electorate year than in 2008, and they supported Obama.

Most commentators argued that the GOP’s hard-line stance on immigration disqualified their candidates with Hispanics. Whereas George W. Bush once carried 44 percent of the Latino vote, Mitt Romney amounted to less than 27 percent. Romney’s essential tie in Florida directly results from Obama’s strength among non-Cuban Hispanics. The same strength cost Romney both Nevada and Colorado.

Others, including some writers for the conservative National Review magazine complained that Hispanic voters generally are more left-leaning. Their embrace of “family values” involves more of a government-led social safety net than conventional eco-social conservatism. Indeed, Hispanics supported gay-marriage initiatives by solid majorities.

Regardless, for the GOP, demography may be destiny. As NBC news’ Chuck Todd put it, “Yes, the auto bailout mattered in Ohio. Sure, Hurricane Sandy helped the president. And, yes, the economy was the No. 1 issue. But make no mistake: What happened on [election day] was a demographic time bomb that had been ticking and that blew up in GOP faces. As the Obama campaign had assumed more than a year ago, the white portion of the electorate dropped to 72 percent, and the president won just 39 percent of that vote. But he carried a whopping 93 percent of Black voters (representing 13 percent of the electorate), 71 percent of Latinos (representing 10%), and also 73 percent of Asians (3%). What’s more, despite all the predictions that youth turnout would be down, voters 18-29 made up 19 percent of last night’s voting population—up from 18 percent four years ago—and President Obama took 60 percent from that group.”

“On Monday, we wrote that demography could determine destiny. And that’s exactly what happened. While the campaign’s turnout operation deserves all the credit for getting these voters to the polls, the most significant event of this presidential contest might very well have been the 2010 census.”

Or as conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh admitted the day after the election, “We’re outnumbered.” The dilemma for the Republican Party henceforth remains that it can no longer rely on white voters to win national elections anymore, especially in presidential cycles. Indeed, according to the exit poll, 89 percent of all votes Mitt Romney won came from whites (compared with 56 percent for Obama). So the Republicans are maximizing their share with white voters; they just aren’t getting the rest.

The Beleaguered Louisiana Democratic Party

Prior to election day, conservative writer Michael Barone argued that demographic changes would not hurt Republicans. He maintained as ethnic groups grow into smaller parts of an overall electorate, they react by voting more cohesively—and eventually more conservatively—increasing their political power even as their majoritarian status is threatened.

This happened only to a limited degree in the swing states. Ethnic Whites have journeyed to the GOP, but not in sufficient numbers to carry their states for Romney or GOP Senatorial candidates that went down to defeat—Wisconsin’s Tommy Thomp­son, Pennsylvania’s Tom Smith, or Ohio’s Josh Mandel.

It has, though, clearly happened in Louisiana. Many Clinton-supporting Democrats, who swung the Pelican State into the Blue column in the 1990s, now are increasingly tending to vote for only GOP candidates. Louisi­ana’s increasing Republi­can conservatism effectively convinced senior Democrats to sit out the 2011 statewide elections, rendering an all GOP slate of state office holders.

Under the auspices of new Democratic Chair Karen Carter Peterson, however, the Demo­crats resolved to field a candidate in the 6th Congressional district race this year. The final result of that contest, however, presents some worrying signs that Demo­crats in Louisiana will have a hard time effectively competing above the parish level.

Ron Richard, at first glance, would seem a likely contender for a December runoff slot. Two sitting GOP Congressmen were competing for the conservative vote, at the same time that Barack Obama’s campaign was driving Democratic turnout on November 6. Coattails alone should have earned Richard at least a third of the vote, and promotion to a December faceoff against one of the Republicans.

Redistricting merged the seats of Reps. Jeff Landry and Charles Boustany, and they—and their surrogates—were poised to spend over $4 million defaming one another. It was Tea Party versus Mainstream GOP, but the district, a Cajun seat comprised of parts once held by Democrats Jimmie Hayes and Charlie Melancon, seemed like it could garner enough votes to, at least, get a Democrat in the runoff.

In the end, Richard received 67,058 ballots or 21.5 percent of the votes cast to Boustany’s 139,113 votes or 44.7 percent of the ballots counted and Landry’s 93,524 votes or 30 percent. In the end, the Obama surge could not provide enough coattails to carry a Congressional District both Bill Clinton and Kathleen Blanco each won comfortably.

As did Mary Landrieu. The question is, facing a GOP contender in an off-year election, where minority voters are less likely to go to the polls, has this district, and Louisiana in general, gone slightly out of her reach. And, for that matter, the reach of any Democrat.

The political math of Louisiana for decades said that for a Democrat to win, they must have an overwhelming turnout in Orleans Parish, and must carry a majority in Acadiana.

Landrieu has managed to achieve this goal, narrowly, in each of her three bids for the US Senate.

The lack of a Democrat making in the Sixth Congressional runoff, then, is a warning sign for Democrats, especially Landrieu.

In fact, as if blood was already in the water as the polls as the polls closed November 6th, her likely Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy was already emailing thank you notes to his backers—even though he faced only token opposition in his re-election to his Baton Rouge-based seat.

With two million dollars in his campaign fund, available to be used for a Senate bid when Mary Landrieu comes up for re-election in 2014, it appeared that Cassidy was telegraphing his plans—and his belief that the Senator is vulnerable.

Landrieu, though, might have a firewall in the state’s one parish that is increasingly acting like a Midwestern swing state, East Baton Rouge. Republicans win on the Council-level, but Democrats continue to dominate parishwide, as EBR continues to grow.

In fact, the most stunning victory for an African-American candidate came in this parish without a Black majority. With 60 percent of the vote, African-American Mayor Kip Holden went on to a third term as Mayor-President.

It is Holden that holds out hope for Louisiana Democrats, fighting in an increasingly GOP environment. He enjoyed a healthy lead over his most formidable opponent white Republican Council­man Mike Walker, who received 34 percent of the vote, according to complete but unofficial returns.

If the theory that White voters will vote for GOP candidates above all else would prove true, Walker should have walked away with this Mayoral race. But, the EBR Council President performed way below the LAGOP’s pre-election expectations.

It gives Landrieu hope, but there is also little doubt that Holden improved his first term margin of victory, 54 percent of the vote over previous incumbent Bobby Simpson, with some help from the Obama surge.

Clock Winding Down for Wilmington Ten Pardons

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By Cash Michaels
Special to the NNPA from the Wilmington Journal

WILMINGTON, N.C. [NNPA} – Now that the 2012 presidential elections are history, supporters for the Wilmington Ten pardons of innocence effort are increasing their efforts to build more overwhelming public support for the cause before North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue leaves office on Dec. 31.

Sources say there is opposition to the proposed pardons, primarily from former law enforcement and state officials who still believe – despite no evidence proving that the Wilmington Ten had anything to do with the 1971 firebombing of a White-owned grocery store, or sniper shots at responding firemen – that they are guilty.

The legal petition to pardon all of 10 – nine African-American males and one White female – of false conspiracy charges they were convicted of in 1972, has been pending in Gov. Perdue’s Executive Clemency office since last May. Perdue, a Democrat, is expected to make her decision in December before she steps down.

Churches, fraternities, sororities, community and civic organizations in North Carolina and beyond are being asked to support the cause by sending letters to Gov. Perdue, or signing the online petition.

Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP president/CEO, has agreed to send out a mass email nationwide to all NAACP members asking them to sign a special online petition that will be delivered to the North Carolina governor the first week in December. The national NAACP Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution last May supporting the Wilmington Ten pardon effort, and the state NAACP will be calling a special press conference Nov. 27 in Raleigh to urge Gov. Perdue to grant the pardons.

Thousands of signatures in hard copy and online petitions have been collected, but organizers with the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project, an outreach effort the National Newspaper Publishers Association adopted in 2011, say that still many more are needed by December 1.

The next two weeks are critical, they say, towards garnering more petition signatures and letters of support in order to document widespread sentiment across the state and nation that the false prosecutions 40 years ago was wrong, and the state needs to correct it.

Add to that the most recent and explosive revelation that James “Jay” Stroud, the state prosecutor who had the Wilmington Ten falsely convicted and sentenced to 282 years in prison collectively, not only sought to control jury selection in the first June 1972 trial to include “KKK” and “Uncle Tom” types, but also, documented evidence from his own handwritten notes now show, succeeded in having that first trial aborted because it had a jury of 10 Blacks and two Whites.

The second trial, in Sept. 1972, had a Pender County jury of 10 Whites and two Blacks, in addition to a judge that history shows was more favorable to the prosecution.

“The prosecutor’s notes are clear and convincing evidence that race was not just a factor in his selection of the 10 Whites and two Blacks on the Pender jury that convicted the Wilmington Ten,” veteran civil rights attorney Al McSurely says. “Race was the only factor. Forty years later, we know his real motives. I believe when the governor studies this evidence, she will do the right thing and sign the pardons.”

He added, “I can barely contain my outrage at the blatant racism of an officer of the court.”

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill law Professor Gene Nichol agreed.

“It is crucial that North Carolina act to admit and concede such a potent and defining abuse of power,” Nichol said. “To allow public servants to behave in such a fashion, without remedy, is literally intolerable.”

Attorneys for the Wilmington Ten pardons effort met with Gov. Perdue’s clemency staff several weeks ago, presenting their case, based on the Dec. 1980 U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which overturned all 10 of the convictions, based on prosecutorial misconduct, and the fact that not only was exculpatory evidence hidden by the prosecutor, but three witnesses for the state admitted they were enticed to perjure themselves in testimony.

However, the state of North Carolina, in the 32 years hence, has refused to grant pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten, thus maintaining their false felony convictions.

In the six months since the pardons effort campaign publicly kicked off, support has come from North Carolina congressmen G. K. Butterfield, David Price and Brad Miller; the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and state Rep. Deborah Ross of Raleigh.

The 2012 North Carolina Democratic Party platform also adopted a plank supporting the Wilmington Ten pardon effort last summer.

In terms of grassroots support, the North Carolina NAACP has led the way, and most recently, the North Carolina chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) has issued a resolution.

In each case, supporters have said that Gov. Perdue, given her progressive record of advocacy to stop racially biased death penalty sentences; push for reparations to the victims of North Carolina’s old forced sterilization program; and her veto of the Republican legislature’s voter ID bill; is well positioned before she leaves office, to add to her progressive legacy pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten.

(To sign the Change.Org online petition asking Gov. Beverly Perdue to grant pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten, please go to https://www.change.org/petitions/nc-governor-bev-perdue-pardon-the-wilmington-ten) Those who would like to write a letter to Gov. Perdue before Dec. 1, asking her to grant pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten, should send them to:

Hon. Beverly Eaves Perdue
Governor of North Carolina
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301)

lack Youth Critical to Obama's Victory

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By Maya Rhodan
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) –Although youth are credited with helping President Obama defeat Mitt Romney on Election Day, the president would not have carried that bloc of voters if Black youth had not supported him in overwhelming numbers, according to exit polls.

Obama carried the 18-24 age group over Romney 60 percent to 36 percent and the 25-29 bracket 60 percent to 38. However, Whites in those two groups favored Romney 51 percent to 44 percent and 59 percent to 38 percent, respectively.

Blacks aged 18-29 supported the president 91 percent to 8 percent for the former Massachusetts governor, according to the exit polls. Overall, Blacks gave Obama 93 percent of their vote in this year’s election.

“A lot of people were questioning whether or not young people were going to go to the polls because they didn’t look enthusiastic,” says Kirk Clay, a voter trends analyst who previously served as the national engagement director for the NAACP. “No one believed this would happen twice in a row.”

But, it did.

An estimated 23 million 18-29 year-old voters participated in the 2012 election, representing 19 percent of the overall electorate—up one point from 2008. In terms of actual numbers, voting participation in that group dropped two points to 50 percent . However, in the all-important swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida, 58 percent of eligible young voters went to the polls, according to an analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, at Tufts University.

The increases in young-voter turnout in these states helped Obama clinch the votes that ultimately led to his re-election.

“It’s time for both parties to recognize that the future is here,” adds Clay, who is a senior adviser at PowerPAC, a political advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and California. “The strategy of expanding the electorate to include more young people proved to be more powerful in the election.”

Another key factor in Obama’s re-election was the growing diversity of the electorate, especially among young people. Latino voters age 18-29 favored President Obama 74-23, a group that represents 18 percent of young voters, larger than Latinos proportion in the entire electorate, which is 10 percent.

Young Black voters represent 17 percent of the 18-29 year-old bloc, while Black voters make up 13 percent of the total electorate.

Melanie Campbell, the president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, an organization that works to boost voter participation in the Black community, says young Black voters were energized and committed to getting out to the polls this year.

“They knew this election would impact their lives and their futures,” Campbell explains. “If you’re a young person in your child bearing years, you’re paying attention when people say rape isn’t a problem. You know the jobs that allowed your family to become middle class is Ohio are affected by the auto industry.”

In this election, 44 percent of registered voters ages 18-29 self-identified as Democrat and 33 percent identified as liberal. Twenty-six percent of voters in the same age group identify as Republican, the same number identify as conservative.

Brandon Harris, a first year law student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., says he voted for Obama because of the president’s stance on education.

“Like Obama, I believe education is necessary for social mobility, and the development of our national talent pool, which is the driving force behind all of our industries,” says Harris.

He believes Obama was able to identify with young people because he addressed issues specific to their age group.

“Most young voters, are in school or looking for jobs, meaning they’re interested in financial aid and employment,” Harris says. “[President Obama] understands.”

According to exit poll data, young voters tended to be slightly more liberal on financial issues than their older counterparts, with 50 percent saying they wanted to see tax increases for those who make more than $250,000 a year, compared with 46 percent of voters over 30.

On social issues, however, the differences are more apparent. Sixty-six percent of young voters support same-sex marriage, compared to 45 percent of voters over 30.

Jessica Brown, the national coordinator for Black Youth Vote, a group funded by the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, says it’s not fair to claim that all youth are Democrats, despite their liberal leaning at the polls.

“We have a lot of youth that are Republican,” says Brown. She adds that the major issues facing young people, including education, employment, and health care, are addressed by both parties, but the messages come across differently.

“It’s not so much on what one party needs to do to appeal to a side, but it’s how the message is conveyed,” Brown says. “I really think just how the message comes across or how they communicate to voters can have an impact.”

Democrats (and those leaning in that political direction), enjoy a wide lead among Millennials, identified as persons age 18-30, over Republicans, 55 percent to 36 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

Regardless of affiliation, Brown says that this election will serve as a warning to all that young voters are a force to be reckoned with.

“I think that it shocked a lot of people that we showed up and showed out again,” Brown says. “It’s starting to show that youth actually do care. We’re not just going to sit by and let things happen, we’ll be considered as a factor for change.

Sarah Holder, 23, voted in Maryland for the third time this election. Although she identifies as an Independent and tends to vote Republican, she voted for Obama this time around.

She cites Gov. Romney’s confusing messages to voters as the reason behind her Democratic vote.

“I supported Romney in the primaries because I really liked what he had done in Massachusetts,” Holder says. “But the Romney who ran against Obama – I wasn’t sure who he was.”

Romney’s flip-flopping on policies and what she felt were offensive attempts to appeal to Latino voters are what ultimately led to her decision to vote for President Obama.

Holder says she voted for the best of “two bad choices” this election.

“I don’t think Romney knew how to relate to all voters and felt pressure from his party to lean different ways,” Holder says. “If you’re going to be that pressured by the party, you can’t handle being the president.”

Clay says young people showed up at the polls because they cared about certain issues instead of simply wanting to “be a part of history,” a key turnout factor in 2008.

“The way young people voted this year to me demonstrated a more engaged electorate,” says Clay. “This new generation of voters focuses on issues of keeping it real. Double talk, bumper sticker politics isn’t going to work.“

Mystery Surrounds Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

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By Larry Miller
Special to the NNPA from The Philadelphia Tribune

There are many questions and a lot of speculation about Rep Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., these days concerning his whereabouts, and whether he will resign or continue to hold his congressional seat. There is also speculation about a House Ethics Committee investigation into his alleged misuse of campaign funds that has now expanded to include his wife, Sandi.

Jackson, 47, who won re-election on Nov. 6, checked himself out of the Mayo Clinic on Nov. 13 and hasn’t been seen publicly since. He’s been on medical leave since June, allegedly for bipolar disorder and other health issues, but in the interim, there’s been no word about if he is going to return to work.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, among others, have both said Jackson needs to show his face, and at least explain to the people who re-elected him what’s going on.

“It has reached that point, and I have tried to be sympathetic and understanding – because I believe that mental illness is in fact an illness,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. in an interview with WDWS 1400, a Champaign, Ill. radio station. “It can be treated and should be taken seriously, and I stand behind those who are struggling with it, but there are so many issues that are emerging here and he is a public figure, and there reaches a point where he has to square what is being said about him with the reality of his life and he has to step up and say more.”

Jackson’s latest departure from the public forum follows the continuing House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations that he used campaign finances to remodel his home and purchase a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. There are also questions into his reported dealings with deposed and imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. His leave of absence coincided with that investigation. According to reports, the House Ethics Committee is investigating whether 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 charges that he tried to sell the position.

It has also been reported that Jackson is negotiating a guilty plea deal with the United States Department of Justice over the allegations that he funneled campaign funds for personal use.

Jackson, who was re-elected to the House of Representatives despite his legal problems and health issues, could face jail time if there is sufficient evidence against him.

“My deep and sincere thanks to the people of the 2nd Congressional District, I am humbled and moved by the support shown today,” Jackson said in a prepared statement following his re-election. “Every day, I think about your needs and concerns. Once the doctors approve my return to work, I will continue to be the progressive fighter you have known for years. My family and I are grateful for your many heartfelt prayers and kind thoughts. I continue to feel better every day and look forward to serving you.”

The son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson took medical leave around the same time that a colleague, Raghuveer Nayak, was arrested on 17 counts of fraud. Nayak testified during the trial for Blagojevich that he was authorized by Jackson to offer the governor as much as $6 million for the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama. Jackson denied the allegations.

“I’ve committed and participated in no such scheme. It’s been a thorough investigation. And I think the investigation has revealed that,” Jackson said in a published report. He was never charged in the case although a House Ethics Committee continues to investigate.

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