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Rev. Jesse Jackson: "totally" missed signs of Jackson Jr. bipolar disorder

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WASHINGTON -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday said his son, disgraced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., is going through "a sad chapter, but not his last chapter" and that he "missed" detecting his bipolar depression symptoms.

Rev. Jackson, in the MSNBC interview, made his first comments since his son -- who could face up to five years in prison -- and his son's wife, Sandi, a former alderman, pleaded guilty Wednesday in a federal court to elaborate schemes to convert $750,000 of campaign contributions to personal use.

Asked what future awaits his son, Rev. Jackson said, "He is 47 years old. He is a writer, he is a thinker, he is a speaker, he is a strategist, and so his will for public service continues. He is down, but he will get back up again, and he will get back lots of family love."

Until Wednesday, Jackson Jr. had not made a public appearance since June 10 when he vanished, later turning up at the Mayo Clinic for treatment of a bipolar disorder.

As for spotting any mood swings in his son, Rev. Jackson said, "we just totally, we missed that. He kept serving his constitutiency well in the Congress and he kept relating to his family very well ... very late did we detect that something had gone awry, at which time we really took him to the doctor and the doctor recommended he go to the hospital."

What happened on June 10

On Sunday evening, June 10, syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press was in the George Washington University Hospital emergency room here for a hernia eruption.

As he was leaving around 8:30 p.m. he ran into Jackson Jr. walking into the ER with his brother, Yusef, who owns a Chicago beer distribution company.

"I know him; I was a little surprised to see him," Press told me on Thursday. Press asked him, "What are you doing here?"

Press recalled Jackson Jr. introduced him to his brother and replied, "I'm feeling a little under the weather.' Press said Jackson Jr. looked a "little haggard" at the time.

Press said his final words to Jackson Jr. were a request to be on his radio show to talk about his proposal to raise the minimum wage. Jackson Jr. said, "I'd like to do that."

Said Press, "He certainly did not look like someone who would be spending the next couple of months in therapy and rehab."

FEC demands Jackson report

Jackson pleaded guilty to "willfully and knowingly" directing his campaign treasurers to file reports he knew to be false with the Federal Election Commission. His plundered war chest had $105,703.12 cash-on-hand as of Nov. 26.

Now, another wrinkle: Jackson's congressional committee never filed a required 2012 year-end report due last month and on Friday, the FEC demanded to know where it was.

In a Feb. 15 form letter to Vickie Pasley, the current Jackson campaign treasurer, the FEC said "it is important that you file this report immediately." Pasley did not return a call asking for comment.

Not clear what happens next. Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center told me. "It is a fairly unique fact scenario."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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