Despite my disgust with the shenanigans of the erstwhile governor of my state, and despite a similar disgust with the unwillingness of my state’s legislature to authorize a special election for the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama–can’t run the risk that the seat go to a Republican after all; democratic republicanism only works for some people if they win elections–I was always in favor of the Senate seating Roland Burris, our new Senator, when he was appointed to the position by former Governor Rod Blagojevich. I had assumed–and was given no reason to believe anything to the contrary–that the appointment was free of the taint that surrounded so many of Blagojevich’s actions while Governor and while I wanted the law to be changed so that a special election would occur, the law is nevertheless the law.
Of course, these were my beliefs before I had the chance to read this:
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother solicited U.S. Sen. Roland Burris for up to $10,000 in campaign cash before Blagojevich named Burris to the coveted post — something Burris initially failed to disclose under oath before an Illinois House impeachment panel, records and interviews show.
Burris acknowledges being hit up for the money in a new affidavit he has sent to the head of the House committee that recommended Blagojevich be removed from office.
The affidavit is dated Feb. 5 — three weeks after Burris was sworn in to replace President Obama in the Senate.
[. . .]
Burris’ statement offers the third version of events he has given about his discussions concerning the Senate seat, to which Blagojevich appointed him in late December, after Blagojevich was hit with federal corruption charges that included an allegation he tried to sell the Senate appointment.
The entire sordid, sorry episode only serves to give yet another black eye to (a) Illinois Democrats, whose refusal to help bring about a special election through the enactment of legislation in the wake of Rod Blagojevich’s arrest and indictment; (b) Burris himself, whose candidacy was not exactly controversy-free; and (c) U.S. Senate Democrats, who were outbluffed, out-demagogued and utterly outmaneuvered by both Burris and Blagojevich (the fact that the latter could outwit and corner Harry Reid and the rest of the Senate Democratic caucus despite his general lack of smarts and his utter lack of political popularity in the final few weeks before his impeachment and conviction is nothing short of extraordinary). Of course, we would not have had to put up with this nonsense if we in Illinois were given the opportunity to have a special election, but again, Illinois Democrats decided that it was more important to hang on to the Senate seat vacated by the now-President of the United States by hook or by crook.
They chose to hang on to it by the latter option.
It is utterly inexcusable that Roland Burris did not reveal earlier that Rod Blagojevich and his minions tried a pay-for-play scheme on the Senator before Burris was named to fill the vacancy left by the President. It is time to consult the wording of Art. I, Sec. 5 of the United States Constitution, and all precedents that attach thereto. By all rights, Roland Burris’s tenure in the United States Senate should not last for long.
And please, spare me the argument that Governor Pat Quinn is honest and ethical enough to avoid the legal quicksand Burris and Blagojevich have fallen into. I don’t care if Governor Quinn sprang fully formed from the head of Abraham Lincoln. There have been enough attempts on the part of Illinois Democrats to hang on to the Senate seat Burris ought to vacate soon by thwarting any attempt on the part of the people of Illinois to choose, via the ballot, their next junior Senator. Those attempts have only brought disrepute and embarrassment. Elections are held so that the voting public can make honest decisions concerning the nature and identity of their representatives. That power cannot be left in the hands of self-aggrandizing politicians. The Burris-Blagojevich Shenanigans Project has done enough to damage the cause of good government. It should not be continued by Pat Quinn and it should come to an end with Roland Burris’s expulsion and with an election to choose his successor.