The junior Illinois senator sought to expound upon his testimony before the House Impeachment Committee in January, specifically his communications with members of Blagojevich's inner circle prior to his elevation. In a response to a question forwarded by State Representative Jim Durkin, Burris admitted to speaking with only fundraiser Lon Monk about the potential vacancy. The affidavit reveals four additional contacts with Blagojevich staffers and supporters, including three separate phone conversations with the former governor's brother Rob.
The Sun Times' revelation was news to even most Springfield insiders as the Chairperson of the House Impeachment Committee, Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, reportedly overlooked it, treating it as a routine addition to the already existing paper trail associated with the case.
In the intervening three days, Burris has seemingly come unglued as pressure from the media, House Republicans, and even members of his own party have reached a boiling point. At a dinner in Peoria last evening, Burris admitted to promising to raise money for Blagojevich in the same conversations that he lobbied for the Senate appointment. This seemingly contradicts his previous public statements on the matter, including his testimony under oath before the Illinois House Impeachment Committee.
To say that the road ahead for Burris is rocky would be an enormous understatement. The obstacles, listed below, appear in no particular order.
1. Illinois House Speaker has forwarded relevant documents related to the impeachment trial to Sangamon County State's Attorney for an investigation that could lead to criminal charges of perjury.
2. The U.S. Senate, and Majority Leader Harry Reid specifically, required that Burris come clean before the Illinois House Impeachment Committee as a condition of his eventual seating. Given the inconsistencies that have emerged in this process, his credibility with his colleagues is significantly undermined. They may be pushed to call for an investigation of their own, and Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution allows the Senate to "...punish its own members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member."
3. Burris' reelection prospects were in question from the day he assumed his Senate seat, but it is difficult to imagine him even winning his party's nomination next year. Interesting enough, potential challenger and current Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is currently on a Mediterranean trip with the senior senator from Illinois, Majority Whip Dick Durbin. On the Republican side of the aisle, Congressman Mark Kirk has expressed interest in the seat and would offer formidable opposition to whoever emerges as the Democratic candidate.
4. Given the precarious predicament that Burris has placed himself in, Republican calls to resign may soon be echoed by those in his own party to stave off further embarrassment.
5. Should Burris vacate his seat in one fashion or another, state law as it's currently written would allow Governor Pat Quinn to name an interim replacement, but...
6. House Minority Leader Tom Cross has submitted legislation once more to remove this power from the governor's hands and require a special election to fill senate vacancies moving forward.
7. Finally, there is action on the federal level to amend the Constitution and require special elections in the case of any senate vacancies. The Seventeenth Amendment, which mandated the direct election of senators rather than their appointment by state legislatures, allows states to empower governors to make temporary appointments until a special election is called. The amendment process is a lengthy one, as it requires two-thirds approval of both houses of Congress, followed by the approval of three-fourths of all states either by their legislatures or special conventions called for this purpose.