Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Scoop: Lawyer says Burris on tape promising Blago a campaign check

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In a November conversation caught on an FBI wiretap, Roland Burris promised
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother that he'd write the governor a campaign check
by mid-December, Burris' lawyer said today.
That was about a month before Rod Blagojevich appointed Burris to the U.S.
Senate.
But lawyer Timothy Wright told the Chicago Sun-Times today that his client
never sent the check because he believed it wasn't a good idea given Burris'
interest in the U.S. Senate seat appointment. Wright said Burris' decision
not to send the check had nothing to do with Blagojevich's Dec. 9 arrest.
Burris made his decision before the arrest, Wright said.
"Sen. Burris, as he said, decided he couldn't send a check because it
wouldn't look good," Wright said.
Burris did not mention a promise of a check in a Feb. 4 sworn affidavit that
Burris submitted to an Illinois House panel investigating Rod Blagojevich's
impeachment. That affidavit sought to supplement Burris' testimony before a
House panel, where Burris only mentioned having contact with Lon Monk with
regard to the appointment.
But Wright said the amount of the check was to be $1,500. The conversation
with Robert Blagojevich happened when Burris was interested in the U.S.
Senate. Wright said Burris' answers to the House panel have been
consistent, and he has made repeated efforts to be as complete as possible
to the public.
Wright scoffed at the notion that a promise of a check was part of any
pay-to-play scheme.
"Fifteen hundred dollars? Come on" Wright said. "Burris had been a
fund-raiser in years past. This had nothing to do with pay-to-play."
Today in court, Wright did not oppose the release of the tape to a U.S.
Senate Ethics panel. Wright said he believes the tape will vindicate his
client.
"It's good to get the facts out," Wright said. "It's just really good to get
the truth out."
U.S. District Judge James Holderman said in court today he would unseal the
tape and transcript of a November conversation between Burris and Robert
Blagojevich, who chaired the ex-governor's campaign fund.
Both Wright and Robert Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, did not oppose the release of the tape today in court.
"I have no objection to these tapes being released or played to the public," Ettinger said.
Burris came under fire in February after the Sun-Times disclosed the Feb. 4
affidavit, which was not previously made public. The Senate Ethics Committee
is investigating whether Burris misled the public in different sworn
affidavits and testimony to that impeachment panel.
The Sun-Times previously reported that Burris appeared to have an unmet
fund-raising commitment with Blagojevich. A list of potential donors, dated Dec. 3, contains an entry targeting Burris for up to $10,000 and indicates Burris intended to "call back with a date," presumably concerning fund-raising.
In a Jan. 5 affidavit Burris told the committee: "Prior to the December 26,
2008 telephone call from Mr. [Sam] Adams, Jr., there was not any contact
between myself or any of my representatives with Governor Blagojevich or any
of his representatives regarding my appointment to the United States
Senate."
Adam is a member of Rod Blagojevich's legal team.
Wright said that affidavit had to do solely with the actual appointment.
Because Burris wasn't even in consideration until after the ex-governor was
charged, he didn't detail conversations with Rod Blagojevich's aides or
brother, Wright said.
Then, this is what Burris said in his amended affidavit Feb. 4:
"I recall that Governor Blagojevich's brother, Rob Blagojevich, called me
three times to seek my assistance in fund-raising for Governor Blagojevich.
...
"I mentioned the Senate seat in the context of saying that I could not
contribute to Governor Blagojevich because it could be viewed as an attempt
to curry favor with him regarding his decision to appoint a successor to
President Obama," Burris wrote. "I did not raise or donate any funds to
Governor Blagojevich after the fundraiser on June 27, 2008."
During the Jan. 8 appearance before the impeachment committee, Burris was
asked to identify all Blagojevich emissaries with whom he spoke ‹ including
Robert Blagojevich. Burris only named Lon Monk. Burris insisted during that
testimony there was no quid pro quo with Blagojevich regarding the
appointment.

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TrackBack URL: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/23054

The ethics watchdog group "Democracy 21" is calling on the Senate ethics committee to hold public hearings on the circumstances surrounding the appointment of U.S. Sen. Roland Burris. Burris has been under fire since the Chicago Sun-Times revealed in F... Read More

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich just told a national TV audience while appearing on Mike Huckabee's talk show tonight that Roland Burris refused to donate to Citizens for Blagojevich last year. In defending his pick of Burris to succeed Barack... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on May 26, 2009 2:08 PM.

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