Burris' Ethics Bubble Bursts, Opening Door for Expulsion
By admitting that he tried, without success, to raise money for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich prior to Blagojevich appointing him to the U.S. Senate, Sen. Roland Burris has exposed himself to whole new set of complex and potentially damaging legal hurdles, ethics lawyers say.
No longer is the question -- as was the case during Burris' controversial appointment -- whether or not he is qualified to serve in office. Now it is a vaguer dispute over whether, by acknowledging that he left out information during his impeachment committee testimony and (unsuccessfully) tried to fundraise for the embattled former governor, Burris has exhibited conduct that deserves reprimand, censure or even expulsion from the Senate.
"We are beyond the constitution now," said Ken Gross, a Washington lawyer who heads Skadden Arp's Political Law practice. "It is within the Senate's authority to expel him from office. And the standards are amorphous... In recent history I don't know if a flat perjury conviction has ever been the basis for removal but it certainly could be. And in this case the Senator came in with two strikes against him already. There won't be many people standing up for him now."