Ill. impeachment committee returns to work

January 7, 2009 4:44:02 PM PST
The Illinois House special impeachment committee reconvened in Springfield Wednesday afternoon. Among the people to testify before the committee this week is Roland Burris. And members could vote to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich by the end of the week.

The impeachment committee met for about an hour Wednesday afternoon before it adjourned. It will reconvene Thursday to hear from Roland Burris, who is en route to Springfield from Washington.

In a major development Wednesday, lawyers for Governor Rod Blagojevich objected to the use of federal wiretaps in this impeachment investigation, which appears at this stage to be nearing an end. Committee members spent the early afternoon in smaller meetings actually beginning to write the report on whether or not the governor should be impeached. They are summarizing their investigation even though there are witnesses and evidence still to be reviewed.

"We've compiled evidence. Members of the committee have reviewed the evidence. A couple of times. We have comments about the evidence. We have comments about how the evidence will be construed," said State Rep. Lou Lang, (D) Skokie.

"We have been reading and rereading over the evidence we've gathered and we will still gather," said State Rep. Mary Flowers, (D) Chicago.

The committee will hear from a former Illinois inspector general about a secret report he wrote two years ago on patronage in the Blagojevich administration. But more important sessions will occur Thursday when the federal courts rule on whether the committee may include transcripts of FBI wiretaps in their findings and the scheduled testimony of the governor's US Senate appointee Roland Burris.

"I don't know that there's that much that Mr. Burris can add to what the committee already has," said Rep. John Fritchey, (D) Chicago.

"I want him to tell the committee and the people of the state of Illinois the circumstances upon which he received the appointment," said State Rep. Jim Durkin, (R) Western Springs.

With the entire House set to reconvene Thursday, the committee could make its recommendation Thursday afternoon, and an impeachment resolution could be on the floor -- up for a vote -- by Friday.

"Illinois' been embarrassed over the last weeks. And it's up to the Illinois House of Representatives to draw that embarrassment to a close as quickly as we can," said Lang.

No definitive time yet on when Roland Burris will appear at the state capital. It could be just before the impeachment committee or it could be before the entire House which again has been called back to Springfield in special session by House Speaker Michael Madigan.