Burris refuses to resign, says a top Democrat
Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) told the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat Tuesday during a closed-door meeting that he would not resign over questions surrounding his appointment by and fundraising for impeached Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, who is the senior senator from Illinois as well as assistant majority leader, said that Burris also refused to reveal whether he planned to seek election in 2010. Durbin said he was “disappointed” but would continue to work with Burris while he is in the Senate.
“I told him that, under the circumstances, I would resign,” Durbin told reporters after an hourlong meeting with Burris. “He said, ‘I’m not going to resign.’
“I can’t force him,” Durbin added.
Durbin joins Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and others who have called for Burris’ resignation after the new senator acknowledged that he had tried to raise campaign money for Blagojevich before being named to fill President Obama’s former Senate seat.
Burris left a 55-minute meeting in Durbin’s office through a back door. Asked by reporters about his political future as he waited for an elevator, Burris said he was “under orders” by his attorney not to say anything.
Burris received a polite but not warm welcome on the Senate floor Tuesday -- fellow lawmakers shook his hand as they encountered him, but few walked up to greet him. He spent most of a 15-minute vote standing by himself at a desk.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a conversation with Burris lasting several minutes on the Senate floor. Reid could be seen gesturing, but a Reid spokesman said the two merely exchanged courtesies and did not have a “substantive” talk.
A spokesman for Burris denied a report that the senator was ready to give up on seeking election.