Commentary Magazine


He’s Baaack

Roland Burris is in hot water. The press and the Illinois GOP are all over him for his admission in a recent affidavit that he was asked by Blago’s brother to host a fundraiser for Blago. This key bit of evidence was omitted from Burris’s previous testimony under oath. On its face his latest revelation, describing three separate contacts between Burris and Blago’s brother, seems to contradict earlier testimony in which he denied contact with Blago’s associates about the senate seat. The kicker: “Burris may be on tape in the ongoing FBI probe of the former governor and sought to make the disclosure before embarrassing new details emerge.” Oh boy.

The ranking Republican in the Illinois state impeachment hearing is calling for Burris to resign. The new governor wants “a complete explanation.” Sens. Durbin and Reid are said to be “reviewing” the latest affidavit and waiting for action by the state legislature (because they are incapable of making any judgment on their own?).

Can the U.S. Senate expel him? Well, if he took office by fraud — maintaining he had no contact with Blago’s gang when in fact he did — the Senate certainly could. But that would require the senate Democrats to cease circling the wagons. Can the state legislature, as a former Illinois official suggests, declare Burris’s appointment was only temporary and then call for a special election? Perhaps. Or, criminal prosecution for perjury against Burris is always possible. We’re in a recession, but there is no shortage of legal work being generated by Blago and Burris.

The Democrats in Illinois, egged on by Harry Reid, have only themselves to blame. It all stems from the Illinois Democrats’ political piggishness in refusing to strip Blago of his power to appoint a successor to Obama’s senate seat. Had they not opposed a special election, a new duly elected senator would be heading to Washington soon. But instead, the drama goes on. And what does the White House think of all of this? First they declared Burris wouldn’t sit in the Senate, then they pressured Reid to relent. What now? Silence so far, but soon they’ll be pressed to provide a reaction.

Beyond Burris, the Democrats — the party of Blago, Burris, Reid, Moran, Murtha, Rangel and Dodd — have an endemic problem. But I suspect they haven’t figured out that they refuse to clean their own house at their own peril. If you have any doubt ask Speakers Hastert or Rostenkowski.