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Reid Staffer Darrel Thompson to Be Burris’ Interim Chief of Staff

Newly seated Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) has scored a personnel coup in snagging Darrel Thompson, senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as his interim chief of staff.

Thompson, who was chief of staff to President Barack Obama’s Senate campaign in 2004, will be on loan to Burris for an undetermined amount of time, Reid’s office announced Friday evening.

Burris was appointed by impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) to replace Obama in the Senate, but questions about the legality of the appointment led to weeks of uncertainty.

“As the Leader of the U.S. Senate, I will do all that I can to support the success of Sen. Burris and that begins with detailing one of my most respected senior staff members,” Reid said in a statement. “Darrel’s institutional knowledge combined with his strong relationship with Members and staffs in both the Senate and House, will undoubtedly serve Sen. Burris well.”

Thompson is expected to help Burris fill other senior staff positions while aiding Burris in “developing a sound strategy to promote Senator Burris’ forthcoming legislative agenda and establishing constituent services and relations for the people of Illinois,” the statement noted.

However, Thompson will also continue to retain his title as senior adviser to Reid.

Burris said he had not yet hired a chief of staff and welcomes Thompson onto his team.

“We have spent the last two weeks evaluating chief of staff candidates and are looking forward to having someone on our team with Darrel’s Illinois experience and knowledge and passion for helping solve the important issues facing our state and nation,” Burris said.

Besides serving as chief to then-Senate candidate Obama, Thompson has also worked for former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and served as financial services director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Burris’ entry into the Senate was drama-filled, with Reid and all Democratic Senators vowing to never seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich. Burris, however, does not appear to have any involvement in allegations that the governor had attempted to sell Obama’s Senate seat in exchange for political favors.

Even after the appointment was made, the Secretary of the Senate rejected Burris’ certification because it did not bear the signature of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. White eventually signed a document certifying that Burris’ papers were “true and accurate.”

Burris was sworn in Jan. 15.

The Illinois state Senate voted unanimously Thursday to remove Blagojevich from the governorship and bar him from ever holding state office in Illinois again.

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