Washington (CNN) - Just hours after taking office, the new House of Representatives reinstated a team of ethics investigators that had faced what seemed like a certain death due to lawmakers' inaction.
Overshadowed by the recent fiscal cliff hubbub, lawmakers from the last session had neglected to decide whether or not to renew the Office of Congressional Ethics. Last week, CNN reported on the concerns among public interests groups that lawmakers were purposely trying to kill the OCE through their inaction to avoid future ethics investigations.FULL STORY
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/07/burris.blagojevich.gop/art.roland.burris.gi.jpg caption="Roland Burris told reporters in Washington on Wednesday his appointment has nothing to do with money."]
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (CNN) - Did Roland Burris secure his appointment to Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat through some kind of pay to-play politics of the very sort that have tainted the man who appointed him, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich?
Republicans in the Illinois state legislature are asking that question, and they want Burris, the former Illinois attorney general, to answer in person at a hearing scheduled for Thursday on Blagojevich's impeachment.
And the question is reverberating back to Washington, where Democratic leaders have been blocking Burris from taking the Senate seat, saying the appointment is tainted by Blagojevich, who was arrested last month and accused of trying to sell the seat for money and influence.
Blagojevich, however, has not been indicted and remains governor. He and Burris say the appointment is legal.
In a written affidavit given to the impeachment panel, Burris said he had one limited conversation with the governor about the Senate seat before he was appointed. And that conversation, he said, was initiated by a Blagojevich attorney.
But records show the two men have long ties to each other - including lucrative state contracts, political contributions and even a job for the governor's wife. Those records are raising thorny questions from state officials, particularly Republicans.