Obama opposes Blagojevich Appointment of Roland Burris to Illinois Senate Seat

Duncan Riley

President-elect Barack Obama has opposed the appointment of former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris by Rod Blagojevich to his vacant Senate seat.

Disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested December 9, 2008 by FBI agents and charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as well as solicitation of bribery for attempting to sell the vacant seat. Under local law, the Governor appoints replacement Senators.

Obama said in a statement that he agrees with the decision by Democratic leaders not to approve the appointment:

“Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat.”

The choice of Roland Burris is regarded as urprising, with pundits suggesting that the appointment creates a difficult position. Burris was the first African-American elected to major statewide office in Illinois, serving as comptroller and running for governor three times, the last time losing to Blagojevich, and would in normal circumstances be regarded as a strong choice.

Rod Blagojevich appealed to the media and Senate to give Burris a fair shot: "Please don't allow the allegations against me to taint a good and honest man."