Durbin urges Sen. Burris to resign

Feb. 24, 2009 at 6:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Illinois' senior senator, Dick Durbin, says he told the state's junior Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., if he were in Burriss's shoes he'd resign.

Burris, 71, was appointed by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich before the disgraced governor was impeached and removed from office by the state Legislature. Since then, Burris has acknowledged that he had agreed to raise campaign funds for Blagojevich, who was arrested Dec. 9 and accused in a federal criminal complaint of plotting to sell President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat for personal gain, among other things.

"I told him under the circumstances, I would consider resigning if I were in his shoes," Durbin, the Senate Democratic whip, said after meeting face-to-face with Burris for nearly an hour Tuesday in Washington. "He said, 'I'm not going to resign.' I can't force him," said Durbin, who added he would continue to work with the only African-American in the Senate.

Burris, who has growing legal bills, faces inquires from the Senate Ethics Committee and Sangamon County (Ill.) state's attorney looking into his testimony and affidavits after his appointment, the Chicago Sun-Times said.

Durbin joined a wave of Illinois politicians in calling for Burris to quit, including Democratic Gov. Patrick Quinn and a host of Republican lawmakers.

"I told him it would be extremely difficult for him to be successful in a primary or a general election under the circumstances," Durbin said.

Burris would not tell Durbin whether he planned to seek re-election in 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported. A Burris spokesman said Burris had not made a decision on 2010.

Burris left Durbin's Capitol Hill office by a back door, the Tribune said.

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