Gov. Rod Blagojevich's defiant appointment of Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate could wind up hastening his own impeachment, a member of the House impeachment panel said Tuesday.
In an interview with WGN shortly before Blagojevich announced the appointment, Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) said, "this will, in my opinion, speed up the process [of impeachment.]" and predicted a vote on impeachment by the "first or second week of January."
Cross called Blagojevich's move "astonishing" and said it angered members of the impeachment committee.
Watch the interview:
State Democrats also used the appointment to emphasize the need for impeachment. The spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan said, "be assured the impeachment process will continue," while State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias issued this statement:
Gov. Blagojevich's actions today demonstrate an even greater need for the General Assembly to move quickly with impeachment proceedings and remove him from office. The question here is not whether Roland Burris would make a good Senator. The question is whether Blagojevich should have the right to make the appointment. Regardless of whether he wanted to appoint Mother Theresa or Abraham Lincoln, I believe Blagojevich lost that right when he allegedly attempted to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder. He abused his power and should lose his appointment power. Because of Blagojevich's actions, the appointment process has been tainted and will continue to be tainted as long as he holds office. In the best interest of the people of Illinois, I encourage Secretary of State White to refuse to certify the appointment.
State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), the GOP spokesman on the House impeachment committee, said he will subpoena Burris to testify in front of the committee:
"If Mr. Burris decides to accept this appointment, as I assume (he will) against the wishes of the millions of Illinoisans, I feel it is necessary he be compelled to testify before the Special Investigative Committee," Durkin said.
"I hope he takes my advice and, if you want to call it, my warning," he said.
One hitch in that "warning," as Rich Miller notes at Capitol Fax, is that the House Republicans do not have subpoena power.