Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blagojevich To Name Burris To Obama Senate Seat

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to announce today that he is appointing former Illinois Comptroller and Attorney General Roland Burris to fill the Senate seat vacancy of Barack Obama according to the Chicago Tribune. Sen. Harry Reid earlier stated the Senate would not seat anyone named by Blagojevich to fill the seat, but I don't know how he can refuse to seat Burris. Blagojevich would be hard-pressed to find anyone as qualified as Burris to fill the Obama vacancy. In fact, he is far more qualified for the job than Obama was when he was elected to the Senate. I worked in Illinois state government while Burris was the Comptroller and I always held the utmost respect for him. Burris is a trailblazer. He was the first African-American to win statewide office in Illinois. Burris' electoral difficulties always came in the primary elections where he lost bids for governor, senator and Chicago mayor. He always ran very well in general elections against Republicans.

UPDATE: Politico reports that Harry Reid says Burris is unacceptable and he won't allow him to be seated. Reid's statement is unacceptable and truly an insult to the people of Illinois who entrusted Burris with the state's finances and as its top legal officer for many years. He has no legal right not to seat Burris. If Obama has an ounce of integrity, he will contact Reid and tell him to knock it off and seat Burris.

Now, the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is telling reporters he won't sign the paperwork certifying the governor's appointment of Burris. White has his own conflict in this regard. He probably would like to run for governor in two years and would prefer to see Attorney General Lisa Madigan appointed to remove her as a possible contender for the gubernatorial nomination. I can understand Illinois Democrats' frustration with their governor, but they put him in office and refused to deal with impeachment long after they learned enough information to come to the conclusion he was corrupt. It seems they are now engaged in their own unconstitutional acts and refusal to abide by the rule of law in their efforts to remove him from office. It's a pretty disgraceful display all around in Illinois these days.

At a live press conference announcing the appointment, which just concluded, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) delivered an impromptu appeal to Democratic leaders to support the appointment with Burris and the governor at his side. He believes White spoke prematurely in saying he would not certify Burris' appointment. Reporters immediately began pummeling Burris with questions about work his consulting firm has done for the state and political contributions he has made to the governor's campaigns in the past. He acknowledged performing minority certification work for the Illinois Department of Transportation and bond work his son's law firm at which he is of counsel performed for the state.

UPDATE II: President-elect Obama has sent word that he backs Harry Reid's decision to unconstitutionally refuse to seat Burris to his Senate seat. Can we ask Obama if he understands why some people think he should not be sworn in as president since he does not meet the constitutional requirement that says he must be a natural born citizen in order to serve? The Democrats are really playing with fire here. Don't think for a minute that Blagojevich doesn't have the goods on Obama. He can bring down Obama in short order if he chooses to start talking to prosecutors in exchange for a plea agreement. Obama also risks opening the previous division he had with many African-American Democratic leaders in his own home state. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s political ambitions may have already been destroyed by these series of events over the past few months and, now, Burris is being vilified for agreeing to accept an appointment he clearly has earned. It is also interesting seeing the negative reaction to Rep. Rush's belief that this seat belongs to an African-American, which is exactly the argument forwarded for putting Obama in the seat which was once held by the state's first black senator, Carol Mosely Braun. It's okay when Obama plays the race card, but it is not okay when someone else does it.


IndyPaul said...

Politico reported that a Senate Majority aide said that Reid viewed Burris as unacceptable. A statement from Reid and Dick Durbin explained: "We say this without prejudice toward roland Burris' ability, and we respect his years of public service, but this is not about M. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat." For anyone who has followed this story, the explanation is very redundant.

It doesn't matter whether or not White certifies the appointment. I agree that the Senate doesn't have the [constitutional] right not to seat Burris, not that they may not nonetheless. I tend to agree that he should be seated.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Isn't the certification by the secretary of state merely a ministerial act?

Advance Indiana said...

It is strictly a ministerial act. A court should order the ethically-challenged White to do his job. I'm frankly surprised White hasn't been busted by the feds. He had his hand out all the time when he was in the legislature, shaking down lobbyists to give money to a group of youth gymnasts he managed which put on public performances. It was quite a lucrative little NFP thing had going on for years. John Kass says he heads down to a casino in Aruba with some real sleazebag gambling lobbyists on a regular basis. Burris has truly earned the right to serve in the Senate. This is all a bunch of political BS by powers who are absolutely as corrupt as Blagojevich.

Dan said...

The senate actually does have the constitutional right to choose not to seat a member. Yep, its true.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Actually I AI and I were talking about the ministerial act of the Secretary of State.

As far as the supposed constitutional right of the Senate not to seat a member, you need to take a look at the Clayton Powell case. The constitutional right is to not seet people who do not meeting constitutional qualificaitons for office, for example, that they be 30 years of age for the Senate). I don't think there is any question Burris meets the constitutional qualifications.

The Senate does have a right to kick people out of the Senate but that takes a 2/3 vote and supposedly must involve something the person did while in the Senate that warranted his being kicked out.

It's not that black and white, albeit courts are always reluctant to intervene in such matters.

Indy4U2C said...

If Burris had any integrity, he would decline an appointment by Blago and await appointment by a proper official. Accepting a Blago appointment shows Burris is a component of The Machine.