Burris Lied About Blagojevich Contact
Roland Burris now admits the he concealed the extent of his contact with ousted governor Rod Blagojevich.
Raising fresh questions about his appointment to Congress, Sen. Roland Burris admitted in a document released Saturday that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother asked him for campaign fundraising help before the governor named Burris as Illinois’ junior senator. The disclosure reflects a major omission from Burris’ testimony in January when an Illinois House impeachment committee specifically asked if 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, told The Associated Press that he and House Republican Leader Tom Cross will ask Sunday for an outside investigation into whether Burris perjured himself. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada also said he was reviewing the disclosure, the latest twist for Senate Democrats in Washington who only consented to seat Burris on the condition that there were no “pay to play” promises exchanged in the appointment.
Burris said 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 by Burris’ office after it was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, said Robert Blagojevich called him three times — once in October and twice after the November election — to seek his fundraising assistance. Robert Blagojevich’s attorney said his client believes one of the conversations was recorded by the FBI.
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 on Jan. 6, Burris said he had only one limited conversation with the governor before accepting the Senate appointment.
I supported the seating of Burris when it looked like the Senate was going to illegally deny it to him, on the basis that there was no evidence of wrongdoing on his part. That presumption now appears to be in question.
If Burris’ current story is true, the only thing he obviously did that was improper is witholding this information from investigators. Being asked to hold a fundraiser isn’t a problem. I’m not sure that even holding said fundraiser is illegal; lord knows that sort of thing is common in politics. But the great Watergate lesson remains unheeded: The coverup is worse than the crime.