Burton, Snowden DUI saga: One top leader resigns post as another’s future is snarled in uncertainty

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Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today, Report For AmericaSen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, announces his resignation during the first day of the 2019 legislative session in Jackson Tuesday, January 8, 2019.
On the first day of the 2019 legislative session, the Mississippi Senate’s second-in-line stood before his colleagues and apologized.
Senate President Pro Tempore Terry Burton, R-Newton, facing his third charge of driving under the influence, said he was sorry, “If my inability to behave the way a person should behave” cast a negative light on them and announced he would resign his post as Senate second in command.
In a brief speech to his Senate colleagues, Burton announced his plan to finish this year representing District 31 in east Mississippi but would not seek re-election. He said he would resign as Senate president pro tempore effective midnight Tuesday.
“You elected me to that position to be a leader, to do the right thing, to serve with dignity and honor,” Burton said to his Senate colleagues. “This Senate is bigger than any one individual. It is bigger than any successes or failures of one individual.”
The Senate could elect a fellow member as early as Wednesday morning to serve as pro tem, a post outlined in the state constitution.
The pro tem oversees the management of the Senate, presides in the absence of the lieutenant governor and is third in line of gubernatorial succession.
The 2019 session started Tuesday with the specter of both Burton and Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, facing driving under the influence issues.
On Nov. 19, Snowden pleaded no contest in Meridian Municipal Court to refusing a breathalyzer when officers suspected him of driving under the influence.
Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, confirmed in December he had referred the issue to the House Ethics Committee. On Tuesday, neither Gunn nor Snowden addressed the controversy.
When asked if the committee