making local government more ethical

Legal Does Not Mean Ethical

Roland Burris's acceptance of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's offer of Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat is based on a willful, self-serving misunderstanding about the difference between ethics and law.

Here is what Burris told MSNBC in a December 31 interview (video and transcript):

I have been legally appointed by the governor of our state. It is my hope and prayer that my Democratic colleagues will recognize that what they are doing is not in any way, form, shape or fashion, legal. To deny me the seat based on some allegations by the appointee -- by the appointer -- really does not lend itself to disqualify me as an unqualified person to be appointed. ... The appointment is legal. I mean, no one has said his appointment is illegal. They just said his appointment is tainted. What does tainted have to do with legal? And I don't think it's even tainted, because his appointment, Rachel, is legal.

In my book, believing that whatever is legal is not tainted, is completely ethical, alone disqualifies former Illinois Attorney-General Burris as a candidate for the Senate. But how many politicians share this willful misunderstanding?