Sunday, February 15, 2009

(Now) Senator Burris, Seat In Hand, Admits To Being Solicited By Blagojevich

Senator reverses his story on Blagojevich

Springfield, Ill. —- Sen. Roland Burris admitted in a document released Saturday that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother asked him for campaign fund-raising help before the governor appointed Burris to the Senate.

The disclosure is at odds with Burris’ testimony in January, when an Illinois House impeachment committee specifically asked whether he had ever spoken to Robert Blagojevich or other aides to the now-deposed governor about the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

State Rep. Jim Durkin, the impeachment committee’s ranking Republican, said he and House Republican Leader Tom Cross will ask today for an outside investigation into whether Burris perjured himself.

Burris issued a statement Saturday saying he voluntarily gave the committee a Feb. 4 affidavit disclosing the contact with Robert Blagojevich because “there were several facts that I was not given the opportunity to make during my testimony to the impeachment committee.”

The affidavit, released Saturday by Burris’ office, said Robert Blagojevich called him three times —- once in October and twice after the November election —- to seek his fund-raising assistance.

Robert Blagojevich’s attorney said his client believes the FBI recorded one of the conversations.

Burris, a Democrat like the former governor, said he told Robert Blagojevich he would not raise money because it would look like he was trying to win favor from the governor for his appointment. But he said he did ask the governor’s brother “what was going on with the selection of a successor” to Obama in the Senate and “he said he had heard my name mentioned in the discussions.”

It’s the second time Burris has changed his story. In an unsolicited affidavit to the impeachment committee Jan. 6, Burris said he had only one limited conversation with the governor before accepting the Senate appointment.

Then, appearing before the committee Jan. 8, he said he told former Blagojevich aide-turned-lobbyist Lon Monk last summer that he was interested in the post.

The governor appointed Burris, a former state attorney general, to the Senate seat Dec. 30, three weeks after federal agents arrested Blagojevich on a complaint alleging he had tried to trade the appointment for campaign cash or a high-paying job. The state House impeached Blagojevich, and the state Senate removed him from office Jan. 29.

Senate Democrats in Washington initially said they would not seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich but eventually relented. One condition was Burris’ impeachment committee testimony under oath that there were no “pay to play” promises exchanged.

The affidavit discloses for the first time that Burris believes he likely told former Blagojevich advisers Doug Scofield and John Wyma of his interest in the post in June and later asked about it when he spoke to Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris.

Once again - I hope that Burris loses in 2010 - regardless of if it is a Democrat or Republican. He shows that he has little integrity when there is something to gain from it.

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