Why Roland Burris Must Go

The embarrassment and shame that grows from the corruption that haunts the state of Illinois continues. Those who were hopeful that the ouster of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich would be the end of Illinois' political drama are surely disappointed by the revelations contained in the audio tape between Senator Roland Burris and Rob Blagojevich, brother and political fund-raiser for the former governor.

We are all fatigued by the corrupt politicians that continue to come out of Illinois. We have the ignominious distinction of having more federal agents investigating corruption than any other state. Senator Burris is especially disappointing. His recorded conversations with Rob Blagojevich leave no doubt that he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway - for his own ambitions.

Senator Burris only had to tell the truth to the House Special Investigative Committee, of which I was a member, to be seated in the U.S. Senate. That was the only prerequisite placed on him by Senator Harry Reid. Senator Burris' explanation of the recorded conversations was that he was not being truthful with Rob and was just placating him because he was interested in being appointed to the Senate seat. That is exactly how he treated the Special Investigative Committee. It is clear that he was seated under false pretenses, and the only reason he offered an affidavit following his testimony to the Special Investigative Committee is because the Federal authorities played the tapes for him.

There are only two honorable alternatives: Senator Burris can step down or the U.S. Senate can unseat him. Unfortunately, Senator Burris' gargantuan ego will never allow him to resign. Disappointingly, I lack confidence in the U.S. Senate to follow through, as it has not unseated a member since 1865. But this situation is so different that the Senate may be forced to break that pattern. The one requirement of his appointment was that he had to be honest, and he did not fulfill that requirement. Simply by lying, Senator Burris has forfeited his right to the Senate seat. He is not what anyone can consider a profile in courage. He is a weasely opportunist and the epitome of what is wrong with Illinois politics.

In February, I called for Senator Burris to step down because I believed then it was clear he had not fulfilled the requirement to be seated. At that time, I filed a House Resolution (HR 112) to formally reprimand Senator Burris for the contradictions made in his statements while testifying under oath. The Resolution also urges the U.S. Senate to expel him. These recent revelations further illustrate the necessity for the U.S. Senate to move forward and remove him from office. The Illinois General Assembly needed an indictment to be spurred to action to impeach our former governor. We need to restore the citizens' faith in our government. I urge the U.S. Senate to be more responsive and do the right thing now.