Blagojevich defies lawmakers, Secretary of State; picks Burris to fill Senate seat
Chicago, IL – Governor Rod Blagojevich has appointed former attorney general Roland Burris to fill the Senate seat left vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
In doing so, Blagojevich defies the Illinois Secretary of State and the Democratic-led US Senate, both of whom say they will not approve any pick of the governor.
Blagojevich is under investigation for federal corruption charges, including allegations that he attempted to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder.
At a Chicago press conference, Blagojevich said he hopes the allegations, which he has consistently denied, don't taint Burris, whom he called a "good and honest man."
But no one seems to be buying that argument. Lieutenant governor Pat Quinn says Burris is qualified for the post - he served as attorney general and state comptroller - but says Blagojevich's appointment is an insult to the people of Illinois.
That was the sentiment echoed by Alton Democratic State Senator Bill Haine, who worked with Burris while Burris was attorney general.
"It would be the same act of defiance if he appointed one of the Twelve Apostles," Haine said. "It doesn't make any difference who the appointment is. He shouldn't be making it until these questions have been answered."
State Representative Dan Beiser, also of Alton, pointed to a statement by Blagojevich's attorney, Edward Genson, that Blagojevich would not make the appointment, calling this another broken promise.
And another Metro East Democrat, Tom Holbrook, a state Representative from Belleville, called the move "typical Rod Blagojevich."
"This behavior he's exhibiting now, knowing that the Senate is not going to seat someone that he appoints, is a detriment to the people of Illinois," he said.