Brief of the Week February 23

BURRIS’S LAST DAYS? More than a few Senate observers believe that Roland Burris may wind up having one of the shortest tenures of any senator in history. In a January 5 affidavit to a committee of the Illinois House, Burris insisted that “there was not any contact” between himself and then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich or his representatives over appointment to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. After Senate Democratic leaders agreed to his seating in January, Burris was asked by the state legislative committee whether he had any conversations about the Senate seat with any Blagojevich allies and replied, “I talked to some friends about my desire to be appointed, yes.” Two weeks ago, however, Burris sent a “supplemental affidavit” to the same legislative committee admitting that months before being named to the Senate, he had indeed spoken with a number of the Blagojevich cronies he had been asked about, notably the governor’s brother. Last week, the 71-year-old Burris was pressed by reporters following a Democratic dinner and indicated that he had indeed tried to provide fund-raising help for the embattled governor who appointed him. The reason he didn’t say that or provide names to the committee in January, Burris explained, was that the committee’s questions “moved on” before he could reveal them. The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee and a local prosecutor are now investigating Burris and both Democrats and Republicans throughout Illinois are calling for his resignation. Should Burris leave his seat, Illinois sources tell HUMAN EVENTS, newly minted Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is likely to appoint State Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and thus remove a potential primary rival for governor in 2010. Illinois Republicans think only if Burris, by some freak, is able to remain in office will they have any shot at winning the seat.