Thursday, January 8, 2009

Illinois House Impeachment Committee undergoes political changes

Wow. Until Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Senator Dick Durbin conceded that Roland Burris would probably be allowed to take his seat in the US Senate, it looked like Roland Burris looked like he had everyone against him.

Then, during Burris' appearance Thursday before the special House Impeachment panel which released a report the same morning stating there is evidence to justify the impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Democrats migrated away from criticism of Burris and became his strongest defenders with Lou Lang and others challenging what were some of the most important questions asked during the public spectacle, namely by Illinois Representative Jim Durkin.

The Republicans were hitting the nail ont he head: Some guy working for a telecommunications company gave Burris a $1.2 million "loan" for his candidacy when he ran for governor against Blagojevich and former Chicago school superintendent Paul Vallas. A loan? Then, Burris closes his political campaign committee and never repaid a penny of that "loan." And the only other person who got money from that contributor during that election was Blagojevich, who received $100,000.

The question is, and Burris couldn't answer it because his attorneys did all the talking, really for him at his appearances at the impeachment hearing, is that there is a STRONG SUSPICION that Burris was acting as a "stalking horse" for Blagojeich to undermine Vallas, who had significant strength in Chicago's African American community.

One guy gives Blagojevich $100,000 and $1.2 million to Burris, and there is no tie in that race?

And worse, what does it say about the campaign finance procedures in this state that someone can give someone $1.2 million that can be characterized as a "loan" but is never repaid as a "loan" and in fact, becomes a donation when the loan disappears when the committee is closed.

Kudos to Durkin for have the chutzpah to ask the tough questions while many of the other impeachment committee members simply played the role of protecting Burris.

I supported Burris' appointment to succeed President-Elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, nbut now I have to openly wonder, especially given his obvious inability to either remember or recollect basic events asked of him. He made a terrible "witness" so how would he now make a great U.S. Senator?

Well, clearly Republican Congressman Mark Kirk has the edge to take this job when it finally comes to the public for an election, rather than a tainted appointment, tainted not just by the governor but tainted also by the hypocrisy that drenches in Illinois politcs.

This entire episode is pathetic and sad.

-- Ray Hanania

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