U.S. Sen. Roland Burris was asked Friday by the White House to contemplate his future. His governor, Pat Quinn of Illinois, said that future should include resignation, the latest in a growing number of calls. We have to agree.
Mr. Burris was appointed by then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich after the governor became embroiled in a scandal over whether he had tried to sell or trade Barack Obama's Senate vacancy. The governor eventually was impeached and removed from office.
Along the way to assuming the Senate seat, Mr. Burris gave public assurances that he had had no contact with Mr. Blagojevich or his staff or not offered anything in return for the post. In an affidavit, however, Mr. Burris now admits that he spoke to several of the former governor's advisers, including his brother who served as finance chairman. It appears that Mr. Burris tried unsuccessfully to raise money for Mr. Blagojevich while campaigning for the appointment.
These are troubling revelations that should have been disclosed before the once-respected Mr. Burris joined the Senate. The chorus of voices calling for him to step down includes a coalition of Illinois' African-American clergy and numerous elected officials. Last week White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Mr. Burris "needs to come up with an explanation that satisfies" questions about his conflicting statements and should "think of what lays in his future."
Mr. Burris has pleaded with his colleagues and the public to reserve judgment, but there is too much here begging to be judged. The newly minted senator is tarnished beyond repair. He owes it to his state to resign.
First published on February 24, 2009