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Movement on Burris?

Friday, Feb 20, 2009

* If true, this is excellent news

A Chicago minister tells The Associated Press he and other black pastors who previously supported U.S. Sen. Roland Burris now plan to ask the embattled senator to resign.

The minister, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because a meeting with Burris hadn’t yet been scheduled, says the senator can no longer serve effectively.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a different way of doing business for some African-American pastors who seem all too willing to loudly support seriously flawed political allies. They got played badly by Rod Blagojevich for years, and their support for him after his arrest was embarassing.

* Oops

If U.S. Sen. Roland Burris misled the Illinois House impeachment committee with a false account of his appointment, he did the same thing with the Illinois Supreme Court last month.

In a lawsuit to force Secretary of State Jesse White to certify his appointment to the Senate, Burris submitted the now-discredited Jan. 5 sworn statement to the state High Court that he earlier had sent to the House panel. The affidavit said it would “set the record straight” about his appointment and show it was “free of taint and entirely lawful.” […]

“He went to the highest court in our state and lied,” said Rep. Susana Mendoza (D-Chicago), who said Burris should be stripped of the law license he has held since 1964.

* This revelation isn’t hugely egregious, but it shows how intensely Burris lobbied for himself…

A former top official for then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Thursday he got a “courtesy call” from Roland Burris last fall noting Burris’ interest in a vacant U.S. Senate seat—a contact Burris failed to mention to lawmakers in his evolving testimony about how he got the job.

John Filan, former chief operating officer in Blagojevich’s administration, also said Burris called him later—after Blagojevich’s Dec. 9 arrest on federal corruption charges. Filan said Burris asked him to put in a good word with then-Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn if Quinn became governor and inherited the power to make the Senate appointment.

The part that troubles me most is that Burris met with Filan about official state business and brought up his appointment…

Filan said Burris was inquiring about legal business for the Illinois Finance Authority on behalf of the law firm for which he was of counsel. But he also brought up his continued interest in the Senate seat, Filan said. “I think he [Burris] basically said, ‘If it were to come to pass that Pat Quinn would become the governor, would you put a good word in for me?’ ” Filan recalled. “I didn’t do that, however.”

* Rod Blagojevich, Jr.

Having met with his advisers and decided to fight calls for his resignation, embattled Sen. Roland Burris relaunched his listening tour of Illinois on Friday, but without the reporters who planned to follow him again.

Emerging from his South Side home early morning, Burris quickly entered a vehicle waiting for him outside his home — and shut the door without taking questions from reporters.

* Sen. Dick Durbin cranks up the rhetoric, but stops short of demanding Burris’ resignation…

“It’s sickening,” Durbin said in an interview. “Short of Roland Burris resigning or resolving this issue - if he can, and I don’t know if he can - I don’t know what will stop it. I’m tired of this Blagojevich burlesque that’s been going on for so long. The people of our state should be spared this.”

* The Tribune demands that Democrats take a stand on Burris’ resignation, and the Rockford paper makes this claim…

Burris obviously forgot how harsh the spotlight can be and how uncomfortable questions can become when you say yes to a man who, as prosecutors said, was in the midst of a “corruption crime spree.”

He’s been getting a pass from the Illinois media for so long that he really had no clue what he was in for.

* This doesn’t seem to be going anywhere yet

Illinois Republicans resurrected calls Thursday for a special election targeted at removing U.S. Sen. Roland Burris from office. […]

They also want a one-time only special election this spring to fill the seat now held by Burris.

Gov. Quinn appears to back the concept, but Speaker Madigan is not enthralled…

But Democrats, who control the legislative agenda, aren’t on board. A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan said Thursday the GOP proposal could result in a protracted legal battle by Burris, as well as cost local election authorities millions of dollars.


“It would be the constitutional equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, but desperate times call for desperate measures,” wrote Garrett Epps, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, who first pointed out the loophole on the political news and opinion Web site

* Related…

* Quinn holds back from demanding Burris resignation

* During ISU visit, Quinn stops short of calling for Burris to resign

* Mayor Daley Says Burris Has Some Explaining To Do

* Hynes calls for Burris to resign

* What people are saying about Burris

* Burris case: Experts say proving someone knowingly lied is tough

* Why Roland Burris keeps fighting

* Burris has two choices

* Burris should know controversy abhors a vacuum

* The real Roland Burris? Please stand up

* How Will Burris Tombstone Read

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:24 am:

    503 error on the feeds…just sayin’

  2. - Amy - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:25 am:

    The commentary in the last few days, Kass, guests on Chicago Tonight, has shifted to Burris getting hit harder because he is African American. While it is certainly true that Madigan and Daley could receive more criticism for bad acts, we just impeached a governor, a white man, for pay to play and more. So, how can critics resort to the race defense for the shape shifting Burris?

    Burris let himself enter Blago world. Blago went down. Burris is headed in the same direction. it’s not about race, it’s about greed.

  3. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:25 am:

    It’s a shame Blago wanted to be known as the “Health Care” Governor, and not the “Education” Governor.

    Because I gotta say, I’ve learned more about the Illinois Constitution from these sagas than at any time since I passed the required 6th grade test.

    I’d have counted that as a Blago accomplishment.

  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:30 am:

    VQ, I’m working on it. Have been. Not finding answers yet.

  5. - Mr W.T. Rush - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:34 am:

    Still looking for the feds subpoena to the Trib for their effort to get state cash in the Wrigley deal. Is it on the kass website?…..anybody know where it is?
    Speaking of giving white guys a pass, no one can accuse Kass of giving Fast Eddie V. a rough up. Right

  6. - Levois - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:35 am:

    Played by Blago? They probably shouldn’t even be involved in politics at all if they can’t help but fall in with the seedy characters in politics.

  7. - James the Intolerant - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:46 am:

    How about Durbion for Waffler in Chief?
    1) We will not accept him.
    2) Rolls over, puts his arms around Burris.
    3) “It’s sickening.” Maybe Durbin should’ve done a little leg-work or was he too busy bouncing from one end to the other. I can’t wait to vote against Durbin.

  8. - Plutocrat03 - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:49 am:

    Mr. Burris was a vice-chairman of Blago’s transition team. I think he knew who he was getting into bed with.

    As details emerge, we are learning how Mr. Burris made his money. Not as pretty as we thought.

  9. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:52 am:

    Gotcha Rich…back up now so maybe a glitch. I guess I use them more than I realized!

    Plenty of blame to go around, but I agree with James: if Durbin would have held his ground and kept his word, we wouldn’t be in this pickle. Of course I have read about the pressure from ‘higher up’ to seat him so the inauguration went smoothly, but come on! As the saying goes, Roland, be careful what you wish for–you may get it!

  10. - vole - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    Not to excuse or attempt to explain any behavior by Burris, but I wonder just how much outside the norm would it have been for Burris to attempt to raise $10,000 for Blagojevich while at the same time hoping for a Senate appointment. I mean, had this been any other governor, who had not been already arrested and in trouble like Blagojevich, and had Burris actually raised the bucks and been appointed, would anyone now be raising the question? Are we retroactively projecting some of our freshly inspired ethical outrages? Of course none of this would excuse any kind of cover up or selective memory lapses by Burris, but I do still wonder especially when there appears to be some resistance to campaign finance reform in the state legislature. The gray line may indeed be safe territory for a good time to come for the select exempted. Just hoping Blagojevich and Burris are not the sacrificial scapegoats.

  11. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    Vole: For me, it’s not the $10K. For me, it’s the lying/misdirection/whateveryouwanttocallit to:

    The House Impeachment Committee
    Members of the US Senate
    The Illinois Supreme Court

    I think any focus on the cash, especially on the amount, is useless. But when someone says “did you talk about XX” and you say no, and that’s not the whole truth, then you don’t deserve to represent the people.

  12. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    Obviously the past couple of months have been terrible for Blago, and now they’re going bad for Burris.

    But Durbin’s reputation has taken a horrible pounding, too. Powerful, sharp? Not so much. He’s only added to the embarassment.

  13. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:01 am:

    This is the track Durbin should have been on all along. Everyone who complains that he shouldn’t have let Burris into the Senate neglects that the Senate found out that they did not really have the authority to bar Burris.

  14. - Shore - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:03 am:

    Personal question, Rich why aren’t you on chicago tonight more often? They could really use you.

  15. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:08 am:

    Because I no longer live in Chicago.

  16. - Throw me a bone..... - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:08 am:

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to formally announce my candidacy for US Senator. For the record:
    I smoked pot and inhaled
    I did other drugs which didn’t require inhaling
    I have been arrested
    I have done many stupid things in my life
    I have done more good things than stupid things
    I have made mistakes; I have apologized and corrected most
    I am opposed to regressive taxes
    Funding education through property taxes has to go
    I am pro-choice
    I don’t cotton much to pandering to interest groups
    I don’t have a war chest
    I drive a 2003 foreign car which will have to double as my campaign bus
    No one to whom I am related is or has been an elected official
    I have never spoken to our former Governor or anyone associated with him campaign crontibutions or my desire to run for US Senator
    I have not purchased a plot or my tombstone.
    I have however contemplated my epitaph (twisted, I know)
    I don’t believe any single person is responsible for our current economic mess; there is plenty of responsibility to go around from the man on the street, to unions, to big business, to elected officials.
    I am not sure that Obama’s stimulus package will work but at least he’s trying
    If somebody actually knew how to fix the economy, we’d be done or on the mend

    Have a great weekend! See you on the trail!

  17. - You Go Boy - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:12 am:

    I agree completely about the black pastors standing up against wrong instead of welcoming and crowding around it, as they did with Blago and Blago Jr.. As for Dick Durbin’s “outrage”, good lord, Dick, you’re just like all the other pols animating disgust when, in fact, you and they are largely responsible for what you rail against. Very cynical and demonstrates your distain and contempt for the average voter. (unfortunately, it usually works - ask Barney Frank and Chris Dodd)

  18. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:16 am:

    I guess maybe even the black ministers have started to lose faith in the magic man. It’s about time-they have made it seem like it’s Roland or nothing which is horribly short-sighted and may have already done irreparable damage to their cause.

  19. - dupage dan - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:22 am:


    While you may be right in your evaluation of the situation it doesn’t matter. Hopefully the times have changed and SOP is no longer accepted. As for Rodex-Gov, I will not ever consider him any type of scapegoat. He came in as the REFORMER after the horror that was George Ryan. No more corruption was Blago’s mantra. As a state employee I have to take an annual ethics test that was pushed by Blago. Doesn’t appear he ever took it, tho. Re Burris, as has been mentioned he was on Blago’s transition team and has been around for years. He knew what he was getting into there. The fact that he hid all the stuff is proof that he knew it was problematic.

    No more business as usual! They’re both adults and will have to take their licks. We should be focused not on their woes but on how to make it more difficult for this kind of stuff to happen again.

  20. - Cassandra - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:29 am:

    I saw three African American ladies, all political commentators and strategists, on Chicago Tonight last night, and they indicated that there is still
    quite a bit of support in the African American community for Sen. Burris. One seemed to think this is all a media conspiracy while the others were more nuanced. The fact that this is the only
    African American US senator seems to be a concern,
    perhaps giving rise to some conspiracy theories in the community.

    Anyway, I’d be surprised if he resigned. And I’m not at all sure that the Senate would kick him out. I wonder if he is back on his Listening Tour today. That would mitigate against resignation.

    Oh, that Blago. His tenure as guv is to be giving
    Dem movers and shakers migraines for the longest. And he’s a Dick Mell production–wholly so. Is Mell going to pay a price for this ongoing disaster.

  21. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 11:43 am:

    Charles Selle, editor of the Lake County News Sun has an interesting column about Burris, citing the first campaign I ever worked on going back to his comptroller days.,5_4_WA18_SELLE_S1.article

  22. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 12:01 pm:

    Marge Halperin has an interesting column on the right in the Examiner.

    She speculates that early in the process, the Blago Boys were just fooling with Burris, trying to shake him down for $10 grand by giving him the impression that he would be in the running, while along they planned to sell the seat for much more to someone else.

    I think that’s very wise. Besides Triple J, you can bet the feds are looking at others who raised cash for Blago last year who might have been interested in the seat. They might even have them on tape.

  23. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 12:54 pm:

    Look at it this way. If burris stays in the position, he gets the paycheck and some more time in politics. If he resigns, he has nothing.

    Burris will never resign while his monument needs another line.

  24. - Bubs - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 1:52 pm:

    Roland, we hardly knew ye.

  25. - Amy - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 1:52 pm:

    Halperin also wrote in Dec. that efforts to derail the Burris appointment would fail. in the long run, she may be wrong
    cause the truth is coming out.

  26. - J2THEB - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:02 pm:

    Two words: “Spoecial Election”.

    Dump Burris, have a special election and put this mess in the past.

    Without a special election this saga will not end. It should have happened in the first place, but the Dems were running scared that they would lose the seat. And it blew up in their face.

    Special election. Make it happen Gov. Quinn.

  27. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:57 pm:

    Instead of a special election, why dont we put 50 million towards the State un-paid medical bills, rehab programs and social services.

    people complain about misuse of the state plane but they want to fire of 50 million to have an election a few months before the scheduled election. The hypocrisy resides not so much in our elected officials as it does in the citizens watching over government. We the people fiddle over special elections while the State burns. Yet we act confused when our elected officials enage in similiar behavior in the legislature instead of finding real solutions to our staggering fiscal problems.

  28. - Trylon - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:10 pm:

    I write from Saginaw, Michigan. It would be marvelous if the people of Chicago and Illinois could persuade Abraham Bolden to occupy the seat left vacant by Barack Obama. If successful, that could set a new standard for Character.

    You guys have to act. The world can only watch.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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