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Breaking: Burris arrives at the Senate

Tuesday, Jan 6, 2009

* 10:24 am - Attention national media: In addition to the stories below about Roland Burris’ not-so-great past, the Daily Herald has dived into the vault and come up with a few other stories. I’ve reformatted the piece a bit, so go read the whole thing

* Feb. 2, 1992: Burris borrowed $28,200 from his campaign fund - A spokesman for Burris said the Chicago Democrat used the money to increase his state pension benefits.

* Feb. 4, 1985: Burris firm linked to probe of school - Illinois Comptroller Roland W. Burris, who paid $442,508 in disputed state scholarship funds to a Chicago college, is affiliated with a law firm representing an official of the same college in a federal grand jury investigation.

* March 8 (probably 1985): Burris intervened in pal’s conviction - llinois Comptroller Roland Burris urged a federal judge last month to place a Chicago pharmacist, who contributed to Burris’ campaigns, on probation after the man was convicted of defrauding Medicaid out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

* 10:01 am - Burris’ attorney, Tim Wright, is now speaking.

Wright says his client has “several options,” including going to court or continuing to negotiate with the Senate.

End. Again, not much there.

* The Tribune Company’s Swamp bloggy type thing is live-blogging Roland Burris’ arrival at the US Capitol

Roland Burris entered the Secretary of the Senate’s office on the 3rd floor of the Capitol to present his credentials. The media was gathered around the corner - several abreast stretching down the hallway.

Terrance Gainer, the sergeant at arms who would be charged with blocking Burris at the Senate chambers door if necessary, escorted him into the office. The secretary’s office is one floor above the entrance to the Senate chambers.

Leaders have been negotiating what Burris will do today - and there was some word that Burris might accept his rejection in the secretary’s office. Guards initially had told they were to treat Burris as they would a senator, easing his path through the Capitol entrance, but were later told to take him through security as any visitor.

“We’ve been back and fourth four times,'’ a Democratic aide said of the choreography of the morning.

* CBS2 will be covering Burris’ press conference, which will begin soon. Click here to watch it live.

I’ll add more to this post in a bit, but I wanted to get it online as quickly as possible considering the breaking news value. Live updates will be at the top. Additional content from existing stories will be posted below.

* Meanwhile, chew on this Illinois Issues post

During Roland Burris’ first full fiscal year as Illinois attorney general, more than half of the money his office awarded for outside legal work went to campaign contributors, according to a book published by Illinois Issues magazine and the Springfield State Journal-Register.

In FY 1992, Burris’ office issued roughly $4 million in outside legal contracts to individuals and law firms, according to the book, Illinois For Sale, which was published in 1997. More than $2.25 million of that amount went to contributors to Burris’ campaign or to the main Democratic fundraising committee.

* And read Brown’s column: Million reasons for Rush to help Blago

During the last three years, two Englewood community organizations founded by Rep. Bobby Rush in his role as church pastor have received more than $2 million in state funding from Gov. Blagojevich’s administration.

I point it out because I’ve been thinking it might help explain why Rush is so gung-ho to help Blagojevich put Roland Burris in the U.S. Senate.

* And whatever you do, don’t miss this one

Did Roland Burris’s business partner, Fred Lebed, have anything to do with Patti Blagojevich landing a full-time job as development director of the Chicago Christian Industrial League?

Lebed, who served on Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s transition team, also serves on CCIL’s Board of Directors.

The question was raised on Sunday night by political pundit Bruce Dumont on his XM Satellite radio show “Beyond the Beltway.” I was a guest, along with writer Salim Muwakkil and Judy Baar Topinka, the former state treasurer who ran against Blagojevich for governor.

* Congressman Aaron Schock makes a whole lot of sense today and breaks out of the usual DC Republican gamesmanship…

“You know, prior to this, I had a great deal of respect for Mr. Burris,” Mr. Schock said. “He served the state well.” But, he added, that the appointment not only called Mr. Blagojevich’s judgment into question, but that of Mr. Burris.

“I don’t think he should pursue it,” said the Illinois lawmaker, a former president of the Peoria Board of Education. “I’m disappointed that he is doing this.”

He added: “Most of my colleagues are not just fed up with Blagojevich, but also with Roland Burris.” This is “not the way you reinstill faith in the electorate,” he warned, adding that it helped explain why the state’s lawmakers are trying to expedite the impeachment process, with a vote in the Illinois House as soon as Jan. 15.

Good for him.

* Related…

* Chicago Latinos at Odds on Burris’ Senate Bid

* Blagojevich And The Constitution: The Senate doesn’t have to seat Burris.

* Quinn calls on Burris to step down

* Leave race out of choosing senator

* Keep race out of it : This is not about race. Despite what U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush has said explicitly, and others have implied, the bid to keep Roland Burris from claiming Illinois’ vacant Senate seat is not about race. It is about denying power to a governor who has gone off the deep end. It is about ensuring a taint-free appointment for the citizens of Illinois.

* Mary Mitchell: Blinders not a good look for Burris : I believe Burris genuinely doesn’t get why anyone would think he is doing anything wrong. The fact that he doesn’t shows how badly Illinois needs change.

* Roeper: Roland Burris as Mr. Smith? Not a chance

* PJ-Star: Not too late for Burris to reconsider guv’s offer

* Kadner: Burris a man without honor

* Burris pick contrary to Obama message, some say: In the midst of all the political hoopla surrounding the Burris pick, his modern-day credentials had largely escaped scrutiny and raise the question of exactly why Blagojevich thinks Burris is best to carry on in Obama’s place. “It’s a great question. I don’t think anyone has taken the Burris appointment seriously enough to engage that question,” said David Morrison, assistant director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

* Senate showdown, subpoena

* Patrick Buchanan: Governor puts Dems in a pickle

* ‘I am a senator’

* Roland Burris Heads to Washington

* Zorn: Let Burris have the Senate seat and move on, already

- Posted by Rich Miller        

34 Comments
  1. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:00 am:

    This has extreme entertainment potential. :)


  2. - Shelbyville - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:02 am:

    This is going to overshadow anything positive that the Senate hoped to accomplish today.


  3. - Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:03 am:

    Borrowing from emil Jones…. Burris Who?


  4. - Lurker - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:11 am:

    Well, that was rather anticlimactic.


  5. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:15 am:

    This is absolutely embarrassing! I am ashamed to say I’m from Illinois. We have managed to surpass Minnesota and we now are truly the laughingstock of the nation.


  6. - MikeintheSuburbs - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:19 am:

    You’ve got to love it. Burris’s lawyers are relying on Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137 (1803), THE seminal case which established the right of the Supreme Court to determine the constitutional validity of laws of Congress! I hadn’t read this since my first year at law school but it appears to be directly on point. In that case President John Adams made a series of midnight appointments to the federal bench before Thomas Jefferson was to take office. In order to be effectuated, a federal statute required them to be delivered by the Secretary of State to each appointee. I guess the horse got tired and Marbury’s appointment didn’t make it to him before Jefferson was sworne in. Jefferson thereafter tried to cancel the appointment on the grounds that it hadn’t become fully effective. Interestingly, John Marshall, who was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was the Secretary of State under Adams. The Congress went so far as to try to change the federal statute after the fact and then suspended the meetings of the Supreme Court for a year to delay a decision.

    The Court nevertheless eventually held that the appointment had become effective when made by Adams regardless of the fact that service thereof had not been obtained. This would seem to be a close parallel to the current situation with respect to Jesse White’s refusal to co-sign the appointment. I think they may have a good federal argument there.


  7. Pingback Take Back Our Seat » Blog Archive » Burris Turned Away - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:20 am:

    […] Lots more at The Capitol Fax Blog. […]


  8. Pingback Musing Minds » Blog Archive » Burris Turned Away - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:20 am:

    […] Lots more at The Capitol Fax Blog. convey_url = “http%3A%2F%2Fmusing-minds.com%2F2009%2F01%2F06%2Fburris-turned-away%2F”;convey_source = “English”;convey_user = “wordpress”;convey_type = 1; […]


  9. - True Observer - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:20 am:

    Winners -

    Rush: He has single handedly guaranteed that the next Democratic nominee will be a Black. He also should take considerable credit for making Burris the new Senator.

    Burris: Doesn’t need the tombstone now. More famous than most current Senators. Among black elected politicians he is/was the cleanest of them all. (He didn’t have dealings with the likes of Ayres, Rezko and Wright). Just compare him to any of them in office now.

    Blago: Whether you like it or not, you got to admire him for putting everyone else in their place. He is the best.

    Black Democrats: The idea that they vote 95% of the time for Dems and not one of the 58 Dems in the Senate is a Black. Blacks are going to be more likely to be nominated for statewide office throughout the country from now on. (It’s interesting tht the Republicans put up 2 black candidates for Governor in Ohio and Maryland and one for U.S. Senator in Pennsylvania in 2008. The Dems only had the one black candidate for Governor in Mass.)

    The Public: They got to see the inner workings of government.

    The Rule of Law: You may not like, but you got to lump it.

    The roll of the losers is still being tallied.


  10. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:22 am:

    Watching this is embarrassing. What ever happened to class? Literally, everyone is fully aware of the situation Roland Burris put himself into, yet he goes through these theatrics, making waves.

    He wants to be a senator, right? Then he should present himself in a dignified manner. Grinning and looking naive like a happy skunk at a garden party isn’t dignified or senatorial. Victims don’t get elected to the US Senate, and Burris’ performance is pitiful and completely lacking in statesmanship.

    The more Roland Burris plays the puppet for Rod Blagojevich, the sillier he appears to voters. What is he going to do next? Take off his shoe and pound a desk?

    What have politicians become in this era of 24/7 news coverage? They behave increasingly more like sitcom clowns than public officials with their misguided love of cameras and reporters.

    I believe I am not alone in feeling completely embarrassed when our public servants feel a need to not only pander us, but entertain us as though they are reality television performers.

    Go home Roland! The Impeachment Committee wants to ask you how you ended up as Rod Blagojevich’s selection for an appointment he was selling.


  11. - ratsoup - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:24 am:

    Rich
    I most of the time agree with you but come on Bruce Dumont as a source? He has an axe to grind with Blago because of the broadcast media museum. Rich you are a better reporter than that! Also does this not set up secretary of state of colorado and new york to not certify the governors’ appointments if they do not like them?


  12. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:27 am:

    Of course this isn’t about race. It’s about the usual Illinois you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours political environment plus an old political horse who was getting bored in semi-retirement. Now, to be fair, how many of us wouldn’t strongly consider an offer for a free ride to the US Senate. Whatever the pundits say. Anyway, he seems to be enjoying the whole thing.

    The people who should be really mad are the Obama folks who worked so hard to get him to the White House. The unpleasant sideshows of Blago and Burris (now compounded by the Bill Richardson mess)do not contribute to the perception of a great start for change we can believe in.


  13. - Macbeth - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:28 am:

    When the story of the Blagojevich years is written, all these guys — Blagojevich, wife-of-Blagojevich, Rush, Jones, Burris — all these guys are gonna look like fools.

    2008 was certainly the year of the Illinois fools. And here Burris is standing and talking and making 2009 to be more of the same.

    Burris should have a lot of fun engraving whatever happens next on the bizarre mausoleum he built for himself.

    How bizarre.


  14. - Bill Baar - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:29 am:

    What does Reid (and Obama) think they gain by this? The damage is down. Why compound it like this.

    Zorn’s right and why the Democra powers-to-be can’t figure that out is strange.

    Defeat Burris in the primary and face the GOP with a “credible” candidate… in the meantime, Burris isn’t going to rock anyone’s boats in the Senate.


  15. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:30 am:

    It’s not over by a long shot. Burris will fight for the seat, though, I think, in a subdued, respectful manner. He will also be negotiating behind the scenes.


  16. - Scooby - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:35 am:

    That Illinois Issues story is a bit ambiguous on who decided to hire the law firms. It isn’t clear whether the AG’s office hired the firms on behalf of the state agencies or if the agencies selected the firms and required the AG’s office to sign off on them. And if it’s the latter is that singoff perfunctory or substanitive? Perhaps someone with some experience in this process could weigh in?


  17. - Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:41 am:

    Bill baar is right. If you can obtain a position by trading campaign donations and a job for the Gov’s wife you sdhould be allowed to keep it. What kind of crazy person would suggest a job hat looks to have been obtained improperly should be taken away. just wait for the next election to remove Blago…er Burris from office if you think there is a porblem.

    Those crazy dems, trying to remove blago and Burris before the expiration of their terms.


  18. - Pat Collins - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:44 am:

    So, will IL issues let us know the numbers from Jim Ryan’s and Lisa M’s tenure?


  19. - Pat Collins - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:44 am:

    hit the wrong button - if I could find that info myself, I’d let you know what they are :)


  20. - Blago Sphere - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 10:56 am:

    {This is “not the way you reinstill faith in the electorate,”}

    Wouldn’t the best way to reinstill faith in the electorate be to take the temporary Seantor decision out of the hands of politicians, and place it squarely into the hands of the voters?


  21. - Lurker - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 11:03 am:

    Roland looks so happy and excited walking in, and so dejected walking out. Could it be that he actually thought he’d be sworn in today?


  22. - Vote Quimby! - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 11:03 am:

    Last year or two I checked out the Illinois Issues website and bought their books (Cash For Clout and Illinois For Sale) at rock-bottom prices…seriously, like two bucks each. Good reads, and certainly LOTS of data. Here’s the link I found:
    http://cspl2.uis.edu/CentersOnlineStore/Books/


  23. - Scooby - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 11:11 am:

    The other overlooked issue that just happened today is that Illinois lost a lot of seniority for the junior Senator whoever that may be. Had a valid appointment been made and accepted prior to the swearing in of the new class today our junior Senator would have had seniority over the entire incoming class. Now our junior Senator will either be 99th or 100th in seniority depending on whether our junior Senator or Minnesota’s junior Senator gets seated first.

    The setback is offset by the strong position of Dick Durbin in leadership and an Illinoisan in the White House, but it will hurt in committee assignments for whoever does get the seat.


  24. - South of I-80 - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 11:13 am:

    Thank God Frank Cappa is no longer with us. Can you imagine what the title of his movie would be; “By the Cesspool Gently Flowing”!


  25. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 11:21 am:

    Excellent roundup on the Burris material. Mark Brown hit one out of the park today.

    After all these years, it’s bizarre to see Roland Burris at the center of national media attention. I wonder how long he can take the heat.

    We’ve seen flashes of the temper, but not yet a full-blown tantrum. If he keeps in the spotlight, there could be jaw-dropping must-see TV.


  26. - Shelbyville - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 11:22 am:

    The people posting here seem to have a lot more common sense than those dems that are in charge.


  27. - ratsoup - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 11:25 am:

    Scooby, actually Illinois lost senority on december 19th which was the cutoff date our junior senator would have had the same amount of senority as the other freshman today


  28. - Scooby - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    Interesting catch ratsoup, I was not aware of that.


  29. - You Go Boy - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 12:03 pm:

    As for race relations: One step forward with Barack, two steps back with Rush, Blago, Burris…


  30. - Ghost - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    When the guy who wants to arm taiwan with nukes is making the most sense, we all are in trouble.


  31. Pingback Politics: Schock gets it, other GOPers don’t want to | Peoria Pundit - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 2:56 pm:

    […] This morning, I heard some anchorperson describe Burris a “respected’ Illinois politician. No. He is not. Read this post at The Capitol Fax Blog about all the reasons Burris is not respected, from awarding  contracts to contributors, using campaign cash to boost his state pension to helping Blagojevich’s wife land a full time job. […]


  32. Pingback Burris Respected? : Reform Cook County - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 3:14 pm:

    […] Capitol Fax Blog today has a post with a listing of various questionable activities undertaken by Roland Burris. […]


  33. - Southern Illinois Voter - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 4:44 pm:

    Vanilla Man, couldn’t have said it better myself! Embarrassing doesn’t even begin to cover this situation.


  34. - Marianne - Tuesday, Jan 6, 09 @ 7:01 pm:

    I once worked for a man who, when he was an assistant admin, was promised the job as the local office admin, by the outgoing admin. He got stationary, business cards and an office stamp made up w/ his name as the local office admin based on this guy’s word. He didn’t get the position, someone else did. Kind of reminds me of Burris.


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