CHICAGO Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been undergoing medical treatment for four months, told constituents in a recorded message Saturday he is "starting to heal" and "anxious to return to work," according to a Chicago radio station.
It was the Democrat's first public statement since going on medical leave in June. His office has said he has been treated for bipolar disorder. Jackson, first elected to the House in 1995, is favored to be re-elected on November 6 in his heavily Democratic district in the Chicago area.
"I'm starting to heal," Jackson said, according to audio of the "robocall" posted on the website of Chicago radio station WBEZ. "The good news is my health is improving, but my doctors tell me the road to recovery is a long one."
He added: "I am anxious to return to work on your behalf. But at this time, it's against medical advice. And while I will always give my all to my constituents, I ask you to continue with your patience as I work to get my health back."
Jackson, the son of civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, didn't say when he would return to work. A spokesman for the congressman could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.
He was treated for at least six weeks at the Mayo Clinic this summer for bipolar disorder, according to his office.
On September 7, his office said he had been released from the clinic and returned to his home in Washington, but had not returned to work.
Jackson's congressional office confirmed on Wednesday that he remains on the ballot. He has not been campaigning.
According to news reports, citing unnamed sources, Jackson Jr., 47, is being investigated by the FBI over possible misuse of campaign money. The FBI has not confirmed this.
Jackson has also been the subject of a congressional ethics committee probe over an alleged bribe offered to imprisoned former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich by a Jackson supporter in 2008.
The alleged bribe was intended to entice Blagojevich into appointing Jackson to President Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has admitted to lobbying for the seat, but denied knowing about any money offered to Blagojevich, who was convicted on corruption charges.
Republican Brian Woodworth, who is running against Jackson, urged voters to pray for Jackson's recovery but said the district needs to elect someone who can be a voice for constituents.
"As we wait for the Congressman to return, we have no voice," Woodworth said in a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday in response to the recorded message.
"And now the Congressman is saying he has no answer about when he will return. When Congress reconvenes, it will be deciding the fate of our nation."
On the robocall, Jackson said: "Like many human beings, a series of events came together in my life at the same time and they've been difficult to sort through. I am human. I'm doing my best. And I am trying to sort through them all."
(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan)