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WASHINGTON — A House ethics panel said it is investigating allegations against three lawmakers, including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Jackson allegedly launched a “public campaign” to be appointed to President Obama’s former Senate seat in Illinois.

But the Justice Department asked the panel defer investigating the matter because of a criminal indictment against ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and its investigation into “the facts surrounding Rod Blagojevich’s consideration of multiple candidates to fill the Senate seat,” the House ethics panel said in its statement.

Because of that request, the investigation will be deferred, the statement said, but “the committee will continue to monitor the situation and will consider pursuing avenues of inquiry that it concludes do not interfere with the activities of the Department of Justice.”

The preliminary investigation into Jackson’s activities by the Office of Congressional Ethics became known in April.

At the time, Jackson, a Democrat, issued a statement saying he was cooperating and was “eager to answer any questions and provide any information to the OCE about my actions related to last year’s vacant Senate seat.”

In a statement Tuesday, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct said it had received a referral on the matter from the ethics office.

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