America’s Newest Senator?
Roland W. Burris is being named by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as the replacement for Barack Obama. He is a former Illinois attorney general who ran for the Senate in 1984 and lost to Paul Simon, and for governor in 2002, when Blago defeated him in the Democratic primary. In that race, Obama supported Burris. In 1978 he became the first African-American elected to Illinois state office as comptroller. He is presently senior counsel at a Chicago law firm, a principal in his own consulting company, and is an adjunct professor at Southern Illinois University. Crane Chicago Small Business magazine named him as one of three Outstanding Financial Officers in the United States in 1986, and Ebony magazine has recognized him annually for 16 years as one of The One Hundred Influential Black Americans.
It is a cynical choice by Blago, throwing out what would be the Senate’s only African American, and someone who says he’d be only a caretaker and would not seek election in 2010. Burris is a prolific contributor to Democrats, including $4500 to Blagojevich since 2004. And word is that Senate Democrats will refuse to seat Burris, not because of Burris, but because of Blagojevich.
“It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety. We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris’s ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.
There is also trouble locally for Burris, in that Illinois Attorney General Jesse White doesn’t want to certify any Blagojevich appointment.
White issued a statement today saying he can’t accept any paperwork from Blagojevich on the Senate seat “because of the current cloud of controversy surrounding the governor.”
It’s unclear whether or not this would impede the appointment.Click here for reuse options!
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