Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Now, He's Tainted: Senator Burris Says He Tried to Raise Cash for Blagojevich

Senator Roland Burris has admitted that he tried to raise money for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich prior to receiving the Senate appointment, but after Obama's election victory. Previously, I argued that the Senate lacked the capacity to block him from taking the seat, based on the publicly available evidence. I stand by that conclusion. But this situation certainly smells bad.

The Senate could choose to expel him, but presumably explusions must relate to post-appointment behavior. Whether or not he committed perjury depends upon the specific content of the questions the Blagojevich impeachment committee asked him and the sworn statements he provided. But, if things continue they way they have so far, I suspect he will step down.

Is this scripted? If so, there is one wicked writer in the universe. This is exactly why defense lawyers ask clients to tell them "everything" they know about the situation prior to trial. Tune in for more drama.

Update: Keeping Things in Perspective
A really bright friend agreed with me that Burris is in trouble, but he also reminded me of my and his previous positions on the matter of campaign contributions and other assistance in exchange for appointments and other political favors. Substantively, it is difficult to distinguish what Burris has done (assuming he only tried to help get campaign donations for Blagojevich) from what politicians legally do everyday.

For example, New York Governor David Paterson will probably get campaign assistance from Kirsten Gillibrand, whom he chose to replace Senator Hillary Clinton. Many commentators have openly argued that Paterson should have picked Caroline Kennedy for the position precisely because she could use her deep political and financial contacts to help advance his own career. And despite the absolutely nasty competition between Obama and Clinton, she is his top Cabinet member. Clinton campaigned for Obama and headlined fundraisers on his behalf (as did former President Clinton) prior to his election victory. Her efforts helped to make sure that the Democratic Party remained unified. In exchange for her "contribution" to Obama, she received a high-level position. Does anyone really believe Clinton would be Secretary of State had she not campaigned on behalf of and helped raise money for Obama?

1 comment:

john said...

is anyone really surprised

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