Roland Burris: Ex-Senator Who Briefly Filled Obama Seat Still Nursing Wounds
by David Freedlander Feb 16, 2013 4:45 AM EST
Appointed by disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he served less than two years in the Senate seat Obama vacated. Now, Roland Burris works as a lawyer and is shopping a book about his journey—and is still angry at a media he says was grossly unfair.
When Roland Burris is reached by phone at his Chicago law office earlier this week, he is proofreading copies of his memoir. He gives the working title—“What is your reaction to that? Does it grab you?”—but asks that it not be printed, since he hasn’t copywritten it. His agent is still shopping the book around, and Burris is hoping for some kind of advance.
The thrust of the memoir is his journey from Centralia, Illinois, to his controversial appointment by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama—the seat no one wanted after Blagojevich was caught by federal agents trying to sell it to the highest bidder.
Burris, an understated and often overlooked Illinois pol, had been lobbying for the seat hard after Obama was elected president and preparing to give it up, but when Burris accepted the governor’s appointment, he became a national laughingstock, mocked for everything from the mausoleum he had built for himself for after his death to the names of his children (Roland II and Rolanda), even his penchant for referring to himself in the third person. The Senate initially refused to seat him, and federal investigators looked into whether he had tried to buy off Blagojevich.
And so the last part of Burris’s memoir is devoted to clearing his name in the whole sordid affair and settling a few scores with those he blames most for his predicament—mainly, as he says, “your colleagues in the media.”