Selling or Stealing a Senate Seat?

Richard Olivastro

1/5/2009 12:24:11 PM - Richard Olivastro

By now, just about everyone knows that IL Governor Rod Blagojevich has reportedly been caught on tape as saying that “Obama's Senate seat was “*expletive deleted* valuable” and that “it wasn't something to be given away for free”.

The scenario is that ‘Blago’ - as he is called by both supporters and opponents - was being taped by the Feds as part of another investigation. And, if true, just about everyone concluded, among other descriptors, ‘how stupid’ ‘Blago’ must be.

But now, ‘Blago’ has shown he can also be ‘politically clever’.

Rather than wait to see what the Feds will do next, or when the state political machine will let the legislature actually move forward with possible impeachment, and despite Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White having said publicly he will not sign Burris' certificate, Blagojevich has gone on the offensive and taken the political and legal battle to his opponents. Using his authority as sitting governor, Blagojevich has appointed Roland Burris, a former state attorney general, to serve the balance of President-elect Obama’s Senate term.

The move by Blagojevich puts democrats, political institutions, and the political maestros in Illinois and Washington on notice.

In reaction, Harry Reid’s Senate has already been “gaming out scenarios” to use in order to prevent Roland Burris being sworn-in should he appear on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Here’s a recap:

In one maneuver - Burris “would not be allowed on the floor, but instead directed to the office of the Secretary of the Senate who would review his credentials. Without both signatures, the certificates would be considered incomplete”.

In another, should the “Illinois Supreme Court (have) forced Secretary White to sign the certificate… Burris might be allowed on the floor; but before Burris is called to take the oath… there would likely be an objection, followed by a motion to refer the matter to the Senate Rules Committee.”

In a third maneuver, “before Vice President Cheney administers any oaths, Democrats could offer up a resolution that strikes a middle ground. It would effectively say the Senate had received paperwork from the governor on Burris' appointment, but that it's unclear if it meets the requirements for certification. Democrats would then ask the Rules Committee to sort it out”.

While any of these - or other – likely maneuvers will buy Democrats time, none of them fool America’s Citizens.

More importantly, the Reid maneuvers are yet another instance of political game-playing. Like it or not, Blagojevich remains Illinois governor and has current law on his side. Should the Illinois Supreme Court be asked to rule on the situation, and they respect the state law on the books that they have sworn to uphold, that would reinforce Blagojevich’s action and further strengthen his position in general.

It’s understandable that Harry Reid does not like that Blagojevich has apparently checkmated the political maestros in Illinois and Washington. But, unless Reid thinks Burris bought the seat, he should move on.

More specifically - Reid should move his focus to Minnesota, put the country first regardless of party, and tell a bad actor he will not let him steal a U.S. Senate seat.