White: I've done all required in Burris case

January 7, 2009 9:04:35 PM PST
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Attorney General Lisa Madigan say White's done everything he's legally required to do regarding Roland Burris' appointment to the U.S. Senate.The red light that stopped Roland Burris in his tracks on Tuesday on the way to Barack Obama's elusive Senate seat turned to yellow on Wednesday as Burris met with the Senate's Democratic leaders and found out what has to happen before the light turns green.

Burris says it doesn't involve any deals not to run for the seat in 2010. But it does require some legal and procedural maneuvering and a guarantee that he was appointed by Gov. Blagojevich without any pay-to-play considerations or quid pro quos or temper tantrums that had to be bleeped.

The Democrats who run the Senate, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin, met with Roland Burris on Wednesday and praised him as a good man and a fine public servant.

But they're handling his appointment with kid gloves because the governor who appointed him to fill President-elect Barack Obama's seat, Rod Blagojevich, is so radioactive that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White wouldn't even sign or stamp the appointment documents which prompted a Burris lawsuit.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan answered that on Wednesday in a brief that said, "The Illinois election code provides that the governor shall make a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy and it requires the secretary of state to register the appointment which he did. But the registration requirement does not require the secretary to countersign or affix the state seal to any document. So the secretary performed all of his legal duties and the ultimate determination whether to seat petitioner Burris lies with the U.S. Senate." The Senate is waiting for the Illinois Supreme Court to resolve the Jesse White signature issue before opening the door for Burris - even a crack.

"Everyone has to present a certificate and that's never been waived in the history of the United States Senate," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). "I'm going to sign it if it is presented to me by the supreme court of the state of Illinois."

Obama's reportedly urging his former colleagues privately to resolve the issue amicably before the inauguration in less than two weeks.

"I think he is a fine public servant. If he is seated, I will work with Roland Burris like I work with all the other senators to make sure that the people of Illinois and people of the country are served," Obama said.

"My whole interest in this experience has been to 'be prepared, Roland.' To represent my great state," said Burris, Senate appointee.

But the road to the Senate seat is blocked until the Illinois Supreme Court resolves the signature issue and Burris is able to convince the Illinois House Impeachment Committee in Springfield on Thursday that his appointment was clear from top to bottom. That will apparently clear the way to the Senate in Washington to resolve the political and racial crisis by wrapping up its procedural business and then opening the door all the way so Illinois has two senators, including an African American.

The Illinois Republican Party says all of this drama could have been avoided if the democrats in Springfield had scheduled a special election for the Obama seat right after the feds arrested Blagojevich.