Illinois lawmakers were hastening to resume meetings on whether to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich, days after he named an appointee to fill US president-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat — the same one he has been accused of trying to sell.
Meanwhile, Senate leaders in Washington were deciding how to handle the expected arrival of Blagojevich’s appointee, Roland Burris, for the swearing in of new senators next week. They have vowed to block Burris from being seated.
An attorney representing Burris told the Chicago Tribune that he asked Senate Democratic leaders in a letter dated Friday to seat his client.
Attorney Timothy Wright also told the newspaper that he plans to go to court if the Senate refuses to seat Burris.
Meanwhile, a spat broke out between Blagojevich and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A spokesman for the governor on Saturday accused Reid of a conflict of interest in the case because Reid had placed a call to Blagojevich early last month to discuss the empty Senate seat and that Burris was not among his suggested candidates.
A spokesman for the Nevada Democrat called the allegation of a conflict “absolutely ridiculous.” Reid had spoken to governors in several states about open seats because “it is part of his job,” spokesman Jim Manley said.
In Illinois, the state House has bumped up its schedule and will meet several days next week.
They had been set to reconvene on Jan. 12.
A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan says the state chamber may vote on a recommendation from the special committee studying whether Blagojevich should be impeached. It would take a simple majority vote for the House to impeach — which basically means accusing him of misconduct.
Then the state Senate would hold a trial to determine if the governor is guilty. A conviction there requires a two-thirds majority.
Separately, officials said on Friday that the US Department of Homeland Security has revoked Blagojevich’s access to classified federal security information.
Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said other individuals within state and local government have access and the head of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has usually been the main contact in emergencies.
The revocation was “pretty standard procedure,” Guerrero said, adding that such emergencies are rare.
IEMA received a memo about Homeland Security’s decision on Dec. 9, the day Blagojevich was arrested on charges alleging he schemed to swap the president-elect’s vacant Senate seat for profit.
Blagojevich’s appointee, Burris, has not been implicated in the scandal, but officials are challenging any appointment by the governor.