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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Something's Fishy About The Burris "Paperwork" Fiasco

Has anybody actually seen the paperwork Roland Burris submitted to the Secretary of the Senate which caused Harry Reid and Dick Durbin to approve seating Burris?

In her January 12, 2009 Press Release, the Secretary of the Senate stated that "Mr. Burris's certificate, and accompanying documentation, appear to contain all the essential elements required by Senate Rule II." This documentation has been described as "new credentials" in a statement released by Reid and Durbin. Elsewhere, these documents have been described as "an additional document bearing a state seal, an affirmation of the appointment and a mass-produced signature of the secretary of state, Jesse White."

Considering that the refusal to seat Burris over alleged "paperwork" problems nearly caused a constitutional crisis, you would think that the Secretary of the Senate, who originally rejected Burris' papers, would be forthcoming with copies of what Burris submitted. Not so.

I telephoned the Secretary's office, to request a copy of the paperwork, but was rebuffed. I followed up with an e-mail:
This is a follow-up to my phone call a few minutes ago. I request a copy of the "certificate, and accompanying documentation" filed by Roland Burris referenced in the Secretary's January 12, 2009 Press Release. You indicated that your office would not provide me with a copy, even if I were a reporter, and that I need to contact the Senate archives. You indicated that the papers may not yet be at the Senate archives. Given the public importance of these papers, and the Secretary's own public announcement regarding the papers, I again request that you provide me with a copy.
No response so far. Something is fishy here. Not fishy in terms of illegal or immoral or unethical. Just strange. Is this about saving face for Reid and Durbin? Were the "new" credentials nothing truly new?

Burris' original paperwork submitted to the Senate consisted of the Certificate of Appointment signed only by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. After that was not accepted, Burris also obtained the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court that White's signature was not required for Burris to be the lawful appointee. That also was not enough. Then Burris obtained a certification by White which did not comply with Senate Rule II; White issued a mere "records certification" certifying that Blagojevich's Certificate of Appointment was on file with the Secretary of State and was a true and correct copy. Still, not enough.

So what was the additional paperwork submitted by Burris on Monday, January 12, 2009, which averted a constitutional crisis? Was it the "mass-produced signature of the secretary of state"? If so, does that mean that Roland Burris' Senate appointment and the U.S. Constitution were saved by the equivalent of a rubber stamp?

Stay tuned. As soon as I get the documents, you'll be the first to know.

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