Defying US Senate leaders, scandal-tainted Illinois governor Rod
Blagojevich yesterday named former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to
President-elect Barack Obama's US Senate seat.
Blagojevich asked the media not to visit any of his political troubles on
Burris as he made the announcement at a news conference in Chicago, Illinois.
FBI agents arrested Blagojevich on December 9 after federal prosecutors
alleged, among other things, that he had tried to "sell" Obama's former Senate
The governor denies any wrongdoing and has ignored calls to resign.
Obama's office declined to comment on the appointment.
A spokesman for US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who is pursuing Blagojevich's
corruption charges, refused to comment on the issue.
Burris, 71, served Illinois from 1979 to 1992 -- first as state comptroller
and later as attorney general.
Earlier this month, he said that despite the scandal associated with the
seat, he wanted the job.
Burris does not have to be formally approved by the Senate to be appointed by
Blagojevich, but the Senate could refuse to seat Burris, or it could seat him
and investigate the manner in which he was appointed, and unseat him if senators
discover any wrongdoing.
Two Democratic officials said Senate Democratic leaders are planning to block
Blagojevich's appointment of Burris.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat of Nevada, has threatened not
to seat anyone the governor appoints and has called for Blagojevich, a Democrat,
to step down.
Although Blagojevich, 52, has not commented publicly on the charges, his
lawyer Ed Genson said the governor has done nothing wrong and does not intend to
It is the sole authority of the Illinois governor to name a successor to
serve the remaining two years of Obama's term.