Roland W. Burris is a Democratic Senator from Illinois, who was appointed by ex-governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became President. He is the only African-American senator. He is an attorney with extensive experience in financial management. Before his appointment, he was Chairman/CEO of Burris & Lebed Consulting, LLC, a strategic consulting service, and, earlier, as Managing Partner of the largest minority-owned law firm in Chicago, and was subsequently of counsel to various other law firms as he continued his private practice.
Due to scandal about Blagojevich's alleged demands for bribes for the appointment, there was great sensitivity about anyone he did appoint. "Senate leaders had made Burris's truthful testimony about the appointment before the Illinois legislature a contingency for allowing him to join the chamber in January. He received "public letter of qualified admonition" from the Senate Committee on Ethics "for statements -- some made under oath to an Illinois legislative committee -- in which he denied trying to raise any campaign contributions for indicted former governor Rod Blagojevich for his political committees...Several weeks after making those statements, and after being sworn in to the Senate, Burris amended his testimony to say that he had discussed trying to gather donations for Blagojevich." The admonition said "You should have known that you were providing incorrect, inconsistent, misleading or incomplete information to the public, the Senate, and those conducting legitimate inquiries into your appointment to the Senate," the committee, made up of three Democrats and three Republicans, found in its unanimous opinion.
Mr. Burris served for three years as a Trustee on the Executive Board of the Government Finance Office Association of the United States and Canada. In addition, he has served as President of the National Association of Comptrollers and President of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers. He also led the successful effort to create a Comptroller for the U.S. Government.
In 1978, Mr. Burris was elected Comptroller of Illinois, making him the first African American ever to hold statewide office in Illinois. He served three terms as Comptroller (1979-1991) before being elected as the state’s first African American Attorney General (1991-1995). In addition, from 1991 to 1994, he served as a Trustee to the Financial Accounting Foundation Board.
He served as the National Bank Examiner for the Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Treasury Department (1963-1964) and Vice President of the Continental Illinois National Bank, which at the time was the largest bank in Illinois (1964-1973). Following his tenure at the bank, Mr. Burris returned to government as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, where he became the administrative officer in charge of Central Management Services for the State of Illinois (1973-1977).
He supports a public option.
Senator Burris sees a need to "secure our borders, prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants, and establish a rational path to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants who are already contributing to our country." Legislation he sees as construction includes expansion of the E-Verify program, which aims to assist employers in identifying undocumented workers. Another program, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, also known as the DREAM Act, would provide citizenship to undocumented teens who have proven to be contributing members of society.
- Senate Armed Services Committee
- Senate Committee on Government affairs
- Senate Committeee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security
- Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia
- Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery
- Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, Southern Illinois University
- Masters Degree in International Law as an exchange student in Hamburg, Germany
- Juris Doctor (JD) from Howard University Law School