By Dave McKinney, Chris Fusco and Lynn Sweet
Chicago Sun-Times Staff Reporters
Democratic Senate leaders outlined a roadmap Wednesday allowing Roland Burris to fill President elect Barack Obama's Senate seat, despite being appointed by the tainted Gov. Blagojevich.
The hurdles for Burris to clear:
1. Testify today before the Illinois House Blagojevich impeachment panel and clear any doubts about the appointment, made by a governor arrested Dec. 9 for, among other crimes, trying to sell the Obama seat for a job or campaign contributions.
-$20,296 in cash and sevices that Burris, his lobbying firm and a law firm he's associated with gave to Blagojevich's campaign fund, and whether those contributions might have swayed the governor.
-Burris' lobbying clients, who have given $107,690 to Blagoejvich's campaign fund and were under contract with the state for $3.09 million while Burris represented them.
-A contract that Burris' lobbying/consulting firm had with the state transportation department under Blagojevich -- a deal that paid the firm a total of $294,546.
-$30,000 in lobbying payments to Burris that are linked to a $10 billion pension bond deal Blagojevich orchestrated in 2003.
-The role one of Blagojevich's criminal-defense lawyers, Sam Adam Jr., played in recruiting Burris.
-Burris' statement Wednesday that he "don't have no money." His state government pension totals $118,200 a year.
2. Figuring out if Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White needs to sign the Burris nominating certificate
Burris is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to force White to sign his certificate -- something White refused to do after Blagojevich sent it to him. Without White's signature on the document, Democratic Senate leaders say they won't give Burris the seat
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan argued Wednesday on White's behalf that Burris can't force White to sign anything. But a court filing by her office seemed to indicate that the U.S. Senate could seat Burris regardless of what White does.
"The secretary has performed all of his legal duties and the ultimate determination whether to seat petitioner Burris lies with the U.S. Senate," wrote Brett E. Legner, an assistant attorney general.
The state Supreme Court has offered no timeline for a decision.
3. Approval from the Democratic controlled Senate Rules Committee, not much of a problem unless some damaging information surfaces.
4. Approval by the entire Senate, which will take a three-fifths vote, meaning Burris will need some Republicans on his side.