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Burris Accepts Senate Appointment from Blagojevich, Senate Leaders Say No Way

In a press conference that can be described only as solid-gold entertainment, former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris accepted disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appointment to the US Senate Tuesday afternoon, distancing himself from the Blagojevich scandal with the claim, “I have no relationship with that situation.” (Though, he shared the stage with the governor.)

It was a theme that would dominate the short press conference, with Blagojevich urging, “Don’t allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man.”

Taking the podium, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) cheered the decision to replace President-elect Barack Obama with another African American, calling it a choice of “tremendous national importance.”

“Separate, if you will, the appointee from the appointer,” Rush pleaded.

It’s not likely to happen. In a joint statement issued just before the press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) dismissed the idea of seating Burris:

It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety.

Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.

Blagojevich was arrested this month for allegedly trying to pawn the Senate seat left empty following Obama’s election to the White House. Blagojevich insisted Tuesday that it’s a simple legal matter: “The law requires that the governor make an appointment,” he said. Citing the state legislature’s failure to act on a bill calling for a special election, the embattled governor said that, “Failing that, then it’s the governor’s responsibiity to fill the vacancy.”

Burris, for his part, said, he is “proud of my accomplishments as an elected official,” adding that, “I have no comment on what the governor’s circumstance is.”

In the eyes of Reid and Durbin, however, Burris’s accomplishments are irrelevant. “It is unfair to Mr. Burris,” the Democrats said, “it is unfair to the people of Illinois and it will ultimately not stand.”

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