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In a letter of admonition, the U.S. Senate ethics committee said U.S. Sen. Roland Burris was "misleading" and "inconsistent" in his statements before an Illinois House impeachment panel and less than candid about his failure to disclose various contacts with Rod Blagojevich's administration.
Before the ethics panel's letter was made public, Burris put out a press statement indicating he was "cleared of legal wrongdoing."
The initial headlines went up.
And then ... the delete button.
In its Friday letter, the ethics committee said Burris gave "multiple and at times contradictory explanations for failing to disclose all your contacts with the governor's associates."
The ethics inquiry was launched earlier this year after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that Burris' testimony before an Illinois House panel investigating Rod Blagojevich's impeachment lacked critical details about his dealings with the ex-governor's brother.
Burris added to his testimony in a written affidavit, which was first made public in the Sun-Times after the paper raised questions to the senator about his discussions with Robert Blagojevich.
The letter goes on to say that Burris' recorded conversation with Robert Blagojevich about fund-raising was "innappropriate," but did not rise to the level of an explicit quid pro quo.
But it faulted Burris with failing to disclose the conversation with the brother of the ex-governor before he was seated in the U.S. Senate.
"You should have known that any conversations you had about your desire to seek the Senate seat and about any possible fund-raising for the governor were critical to these inquiries," the letter stated.
The ethics panel said Burris didn't break the law, however: "Senators must meet a much higher standard of conduct."
Sun-Times editorial: "Burris lied, then lied about lying."
New York Times: 'A sternly worded rebuke.'
Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman: "Burris is a lying snake."
Lynn Sweet: No charges coming

burris

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) was admonished Friday by the U.S. Senate ethics committee over his testimony in Springfield concerning how he got appointed to Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. The committee's inquiry and subsequent reprimand comes after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation brought to light Burris' inconsistent statements before a panel weighing former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment.
In a sworn statement filed with the House panel Jan. 5, before he testified, Burris said he had no contact with Blagojevich's camp about the Senate seat aside from his appointment in late December of last year.
In testimony before the committee, he disclosed only that he spoke with Lon Monk, Blagojevich's former chief of staff.
Three weeks after he was sworn into his Senate seat, Burris filed a supplemental affidavit revealing he also spoke with Robert Blagojevich -- the ex-governor's brother and fund-raising chair -- as well as Blagojevich insiders John Harris, Doug Scofield and John Wyma.

The Sun-Times reported in October that the Senate ethics panel was still weighing action against Burris even after he announced he would not seek election next year.

More at SunTimes.com


burris

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris is still on the hot seat. The Chicago Sun-Times reports a congressional panel was querying state lawmakers about Burris' testimony before a state House panel. The questioning of the senator appointed by Rod Blagojevich came about one month after the Chicago Democrat announced he wouldn't run for a full term in 2010.

For more background on Burris happenings, click here.

Listen to the secretly recorded phone call between Burris and Robert Blagojevich, the ex-governor's fund-raising chief.

A tumultuous year for Roland Burris

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U.S. Sen. Roland Burris' decision not to run for election in 2010 caps a tumultuous six months for the Chicago Democrat that began with his jaw-dropping appointment by a criminally charged governor and was punctuated by his controversial testimony before a state panel.

Burris' varying sworn testimony before the state impeachment committee -- revealed by the Chicago Sun-Times -- led to a U.S. Senate ethics probe, a state perjury investigation, as well as numerous calls for his resignation.
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BURRIS WON'T SEEK ELECTION: SNEED

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021809burris2_cst_feed_20090218_12_45_21_1451-282-400

Our Michael Sneed reports that the embattled U.S. Sen. Roland Burris will not seek election in 2010. Late last year, Burris was controversially appointed to President Obama's vacant seat by the now-ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich just after Blagojevich was charged with with trying to sell it. In February, the Sun-Times revealed Burris gave misleading testimony before a state impeachment panel as well as misleading public statements about the extent of his contacts with Blagojevich's fund-raising operation. The revelation launched a U.S. Senate ethics probe as well as a state criminal perjury probe. A Downstate prosecutor ultimately declined to pursue perjury charges.

Read Sneed: Burris won't run

Key figure in Burris perjury probe killed in car crash

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BY DAVE McKINNEY Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief
SPRINGFIELD -- A key figure in the perjury investigation of U.S. Sen. Roland Burris died in an automobile accident Monday, authorities in far west-suburban Kendall County confirmed Tuesday.

John Ruff, of Sandwich, Ill., was killed shortly before 3 p.m. when his 2001 BMW convertible crossed an oncoming lane of traffic and collided with a tree while he was driving eastbound on Rogers Road near Oak Brook Road in unincorporated Plano, said Kendall County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Pearson.
Police have ruled out alcohol as a cause of the crash, but toxicology results won't be known until a coroner's inquest in mid July.
Pearson said there were no witnesses to the crash nor was there evidence of any other vehicles involved. There were no skid marks on the road.
"We have absolutely no idea what caused Mr. Ruff's vehicle to veer off the roadway," Pearson said.
Deputy Kendall County Coroner Jacquie Marcellis told the Sun-Times that Ruff died of blunt head and chest trauma. No autopsy is planned.
Marcellis said that a friend of Ruff's indicated to her that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, though it was unclear whether that had any bearing on the crash.
"Obviously, one of the effects of a brain tumor is you have seizures. It could have been an issue for him," she said.
Ruff, 42, was the subject of a March 6 front-page story in the Sun-Times in which he issued an apology for being a co-plaintiff with Burris in a lawsuit seeking to force Secretary of State Jesse White to certify Burris' controversial late-December appointment by impeached ex-Gov. Blagojevich.
Ruff, a health-care and political consultant, raised the prospect of a possible quid pro quo between Blagojevich and Burris, recounting a telephone conversation with Burris' business partner Fred Lebed, who allegedly told Ruff on the date of Burris' appointment, "We'll have to do some things for the governor."
Ruff also said he recalled Lebed telling him he'd had discussions about Burris' interest in the Senate appointment with Blagojevich representatives -- lobbyist John Wyma, now-indicted chief of staff John Harris and former chief of staff Lon Monk -- as early as October.
That information contradicted Burris' claim in a Jan. 5 affidavit in which the senator said neither he nor his representatives spoke with Blagojevich or his representatives before Dec. 26. Lawyers representing Harris and Wyma denied their clients spoke with Lebed about Burris' interest in the seat.
Lebed accused Ruff at the time of being on a "witch-hunt" and fabricating that story after not being hired for Burris' senatorial communications staff in Washington, D.C.
But Ruff insisted that the only way to determine whether Burris lied about the circumstances of his appointment when appearing before an Illinois House impeachment panel was for prosecutors in Sangamon County and investigators overseeing a U.S. Senate ethics probe to zero in on Lebed.
"There is more to be discovered," Ruff told the Sun-Times. "I know the key to finding the information out is through Fred. That's the main point I wish to get across."
Both Ruff and Lebed have been interviewed by Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt as part of his still-ongoing perjury investigation.
Burris' office declined comment when informed of Ruff's death.
"John was honest yet irreverent," said Eileen Wixted, a consultant and longtime friend of Ruff's. "He believed no one was above the truth, period. The combination of his boldness and his uncanny ability to distill complicated matters is rare and refreshing. John will certainly be missed for his sense of humor and strategic mind."
Funeral arrangements for Ruff, a father of four children, were incomplete this afternoon.

Blago on Huckabee: 'Burris turned us down.' But did he?

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Blagojevich Ettinger

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 Obama in the U.S. Senate, Blagojevich said Burris "turned us down," and didn't donate.
It's true Burris did not donate to Blagojevich's campaign fund in the final months of last year.
But how does the public know that the decision wasn't made for Burris?
The ex-governor was arrested on corruption charges -- including that he allegedly tried selling President Obama's Senate seat -- six days before Burris said he'd write a check to Blagojevich.
Burris' own lawyer said his client never called Blagojevich or his brother to tell them he refused to donate.
A refusal would be a change of heart from what's now become a very public Nov. 13 phone call where Burris is heard saying he would kick in money at a time that he sought the Senate seat appointment.
On a recently released recording between Burris and Blagojevich's brother, Robert, Burris can be heard promising to personally write a check by Dec. 15th of last year. Burris also can be heard saying he'd consider doing something in the name of Timothy Wright.
Wright, his law partner, has told the Sun-Times that following the Nov. 13 phone call, Burris asked him about holding a fund-raiser or making a Blagojevich contribution.
Wright said he told Burris he thought that was a terrible idea.
In a short interview on the conservative talk show, Blagojevich recited a prayer about mercy and invoked God's name on numerous occasions.
"I also believe God has a purpose for this," Blagojevich told Huckabee, who ran for president last year.
"I've been railroaded, I've been wronged," the ex-governor went on.
"I'm the anti-Nixon," he says, explaining he wants all the tapes regarding his discussions of the Senate seat made public.
"I think what you'll find is a governor who worked ALL the time for the people of Illinois," he said.

Roland Burris tells the Associated Press today he'll publicize "in the very near future" whether he'll run for a full term in 2010.
Meanwhile, our Springfield reporter Jordan Wilson reports:
SPRINGFIELD -- U.S. Sen. Roland Burris continued to defend himself of pay-to-play allegations Thursday, taking shots at the media and the state's senior U.S. Senator.
Burris came under fire again after a FBI wiretap transcript showed he promised a campaign contribution to the man who appointed him, the now-indicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
In the Nov. 13 conversations, Burris tells the ex-governor's brother that he would "personally do something OK? And it will come to you before the 15th of December."Burris was referencing a promised donation of $1,500, a figure his lawyer confirmed.
Burris said Thursday that he has been truthful throughout the events leading up to his appointment and in the sworn testimony and affidavits he submitted after. He just wants the public and media to believe him.
"I expect the media and the public to review every word of the transcript and the context," Burris said. "And at the end of the day, I expect both to judge me fairly and to acknowledge I did nothing to curry favor, was not a wiling party in any alleged pay to play scheme and I did not lie to anyone about the events leading to my appointment."
Burris then went a step farther and accused the media of mischaracterizing how he withheld key facts about his appointment during his dealings with a House committee that launched the impeachment case against former Gov. Blagojevich. Burris put the onus on his questioners on the committee.
"You all have got it backwards," Burris said to reporters. "It is not upon a person who is testifying to go out of his way on anything. It is the person who has to ask the questions."
Not only did Burris try to convince members of the press to lighten their coverage, but he also denounced comments made by his fellow U.S. Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
Durbin said Wednesday that Burris' testimony before the House impeachment panel in January was incomplete and not accurate.
"Senator Durbin's comments are not correct," Burris said sharply. "Please accept Roland Burris' comments rather than Senator Durbin. I answered every question that was asked of me by that committee."

madigan

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) is the target of criticism by both Democrats and Republicans who want to know why the powerful speaker won't give the House a chance to publicly reprimand Burris or call for his ouster.
Three resolutions targeting Burris have had a brick on them in the state House Rules Committee, which Madigan tightly controls, our Springfield reporter Dave McKinney reported today.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the speaker has no intention of letting those resolutions advance to the House floor because Madigan already turned the matter over to a Downstate prosecutor to investigate.
"We dealt with all that in referring the matter over to the Sangamon County state's attorney," Brown said.
Should these resolutions be debated on the House floor?

BURRIS 'HARDBALL' VIDEO

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Burris

BURRIS GRILLED. CHRIS MATTHEWS TRANSCRIPT

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The transcript of Chris Matthews' interview with Roland Burris on "Hardball" follows:
MATTHEWS: We begin with Senator Roland Burris. Senator Burris, thank you very much for joining us. You've been on the show before. You're on the phone from Decatur, Illinois. Let me play for you an audio clip where Governor Blagojevich's brother, Robert, talks to you about building up his war chest -- this is back last October -- and you express interest in getting Obama's Senate seat. Let's listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ROB BLAGOJEVICH, BROTHER OF GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH: We've had a number of conversations about, you know, anything you might be able to do, you and Fred might be able to do here before the end of the year for Rod. Again, we're trying to get as much as we can in his war chest so that when he has to, you know, disclose in January... (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Senator, what was that conversation about?

SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS (via telephone): Well, Chris, definitely, it was a normal fund-raising conversation. I had supported the governor in previous fund-raising events, and his brother was fund-raising. That's what they do in terms of getting prepared for his run for reelection. And I had not only supported him, but during that period, I had supported other candidates. I told the governor's brother when he called earlier to call me back after November because I was supporting other candidates for the November election. And he called me back after the election. And of course, by that time, I had become very concerned about my interest in getting appointed to the Senate seat, as well as, you know, how could I help him with the fund-raising. And I had come to the conclusion, Chris, that that was not really a wise thing to do, that I could not give money to the governor because I was interested in being appointed to the Senate seat. So on the bottom line, there was no money ever given, nor was there any money ever raised.

MATTHEWS: You told me back in October -- rather, January 16th on this program, on the record, Senator, that they'd never sought anything from you with regard to the Senate seat. And here we have on the tape here a long conversation with the governor's brother, asking you to raise money and you talking about it at length. How can you say that they never sought anything from you?

BURRIS: No, Chris, in terms of that situation, that question never did come up in terms of what the governor was looking for from me. I mean, I stated unequivocally to them that it would be a conflict. I even said, without knowing that this was being taped or knowing anything about pay-to-play, that if I gave any money to the governor, it would look like I was trying to buy the seat. So based on that, we had really no type of improprieties, no type of inconsistency.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: And so that -- sure.

MATTHEWS: Let me get the statement. Are you saying that the governor's brother never asked you to raise money?

BURRIS: Oh, sure -- yes, he asked me to raise money.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Are you saying that the governor's -- that you didn't tell the governor's brother that you wanted to be appointed to the Senate?

BURRIS: I most certainly did. That's where the conflict come in. And so what I did not want to do...

MATTHEWS: OK, here's a conflict. Here's how you explain the conflict. Let's listen to the clip here, where you talk about being in a dilemma, wanting to help the governor, but you have this dilemma. And here's how you explain it on the FBI tape.

BURRIS: Sure.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BURRIS: I mean, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment.

ROB BLAGOJEVICH: I hear you. No, I hear you.

BURRIS: And if I do that, I guarantee you that that will get out and people will say, Oh, Burris is doing a fund-raiser, and then Rod and I are both going to catch hell. And if I do get appointed, that means I bought it. If I don't get appointed, then my people who I'm trying to raise money from are going to look at me and say, yes, what was that all about, Roland? I mean, so Rob, I'm in a -- I'm in a -- a dilemma right now, wanting to help the governor. (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Why would it be a dilemma for you to raise money for Blagojevich and not get the Senate seat if there's not a quid pro quo, a pay-to-play deal here?

BURRIS: Chris...

MATTHEWS: Why would it be a dilemma for you, Senator, not to get the Senate seat after raising money for Blagojevich?

BURRIS: Chris, it's a very simple process. I was always supportive of the governor. What I was torn from is the fact that I couldn't help the governor, and if I helped him it would create a dilemma for me because if I helped him and then I got appointed -- and by the way, I wasn't even on the governor's radar. I didn't get a -- the governor wasn't even thinking about me. I wasn't number one, number two, number three, number four. And Chris, if the governor had not been arrested, I never would have been appointed to that seat. I did not know that.

MATTHEWS: But why is it a dilemma -- again, Senator, with all respect...

BURRIS: But Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... why is it a dilemma for you if you don't get a Senate seat after you raise money for this guy?

BURRIS: No, no. That doesn't...

MATTHEWS: Why is that a dilemma...

BURRIS: Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... if it's not a quid pro quo?

BURRIS: No, it's not a quid pro quo. The dilemma was the fact that I wanted to try to help the governor and I couldn't because I wanted to get appointed to the seat. That's clear. If I helped him, then I would be involved in some quid pro quo.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: But I wanted to help him and I couldn't.

MATTHEWS: You said that -- no, there's no doubt that you said that earlier. But this is how you conclude your dilemma. "And if I don't get appointed, then my people who are trying to raise money -- I'm trying to raise money from are going to look at me, yes, what's that all about Roland? I mean, Rob, I'm in a dilemma." In other words if you don't get the job that you raised the money for, your people are going to be mad at you because they didn't get the Senate seat you were supposed to get out of this deal. How is that not incriminating?

BURRIS: Chris, let me tell you simply this. The people who I talked to and the only people I ever raised money for with the governor was my partner inside the office. The most we ever gave the governor was $5,000.

MATTHEWS: Right.

BURRIS: So there's no way in the world you're going to buy a seat. And I was promising to send my check to the governor, as I had done always...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: ... was send him a thousand dollars. Now, if you think I could buy a Senate seat for a thousand dollars, I think that was (INAUDIBLE) mistaken.

MATTHEWS: No, but you went further. Here you are...

BURRIS: But...

MATTHEWS: I'm sorry, Senator. Here you are, going further than the personal money. Here you are, promising personal money...

BURRIS: But that was a -- that was a...

MATTHEWS: ... and also promising a blind fund-raiser using the name of your law partner to avoid being discovered and being involved in this. Here you are, talking about what sounds like a conspiracy to hide the money you're getting for the governor. Here it is, your words.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BURRIS: I know I could give him a check.

ROB BLAGOJEVICH: Yes.

BURRIS: Myself.

ROB BLAGOJEVICH: Yes.

BURRIS: And -- and my law partner, we were going to try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright, OK, because Tim is not looking for an appointment, OK?

ROB BLAGOJEVICH: OK. (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: So you're going to do a fund-raiser through the law firm using your partner's name. Isn't that covering up your involvement in buying a Senate seat?

BURRIS: No. What I -- what that word should have said that, you know, Tim Wright would give a fund-raiser, not -- it would be in his name. He would give the fund-raiser, not me. But guess what? Tim Wright had already said that he could not give a fund-raiser.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but you don't understand...

BURRIS: I was -- I was -- Chris, I was only placating -- placating the governor's brother. So that's all I was doing. There was no...

MATTHEWS: Well, your problem here, Senator, is this is on tape, and it says, "I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright." In other words, you're doing the fund-raiser. You're raising the money. You're shaking the trees for money for the governor in his reelection. You're coming up with the money, but you're going to use the name of your partner. That sounds like a conspiracy to withhold your identity in this fund-raising scheme.

BURRIS: Chris...

MATTHEWS: That's what it looks like to a person listening to this.

BURRIS: Yes, but guess what, Chris? Number one, I did not raise a dime because I knew I couldn't raise any money. And after I hung up the telephone from the conversation, I said I couldn't even give him a check.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

BURRIS: I couldn't even send my own check.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: So based on that, there's no violation of any law, no conspiracy here...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: ... of anything of any magnitude because my partner had already stated, you know, on the second telephone call with him that we could not give any funds because we were interested in getting appointed to the seat, and if we did that, it would look like we're trying to buy the seat. But that's... (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here's the problem where it looks like here -- this is further on in the conversation, which was taped by the FBI. This is last October. And here you are later on in this conversation between yourself...

BURRIS: That was in November, Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK, back in November. Here you are, back talking to the governor's brother, where you sort of sum up the two things that are interesting to you here. Let's listen to what you put this together.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BURRIS: And God knows, number one, I want to help Rod. Number two, I also want to -- you know, hope I get into consideration to get that appointment. (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, doesn't that sound to the average juror that you're saying you're raising money for the governor and you want the Senate seat as a quid pro quo? Why would you say, number one, I want to help the governor, your brother, number two, I also -- I hope to get this seat in the U.S. Senate? How does that not sound like an offer to raise money to get a job?

BURRIS: Because, Chris, I knew that I had already said before that that I could not raise any money because I was interested in getting the seat. And that's what's clear here. I could not raise money. And that's where my dilemma came in. I wanted to help the governor, but because I wanted the seat, I couldn't do it. That's what that means.

MATTHEWS: No, but... (CROSSTALK)

BURRIS: ... and I did not do it, Chris. I did not do it.

MATTHEWS: I know. I know. I know. I'm only talking about what you said. I'm only -- all I have here is the taped conversation. (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You said there would be a dilemma if he didn't deliver the job after you raised the money. If you say it's a dilemma for you not to get the job that you raised the money for, that is another strong indication that it was deal. (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... quote your words here. If -- let me -- I'm want to play this tape for you one more time, Senator...

BURRIS: Sure. Sure.

MATTHEWS: ... and give you one more shot at this because everybody's going to read this in the paper tomorrow and hear this on TV tonight. Here's you, explaining why you have a problem raising an open fund-raiser for Blagojevich's brother -- so in other words, doing this in the open -- but why you'd also have a problem if they shut you down and didn't give you the job after you raised the money. This is your further wrinkle here. It looks like you're squeezing this guy. Here it is. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BURRIS: I mean, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment.

ROB BLAGOJEVICH: I hear you. No, I hear you.

BURRIS: And if I do that, I guarantee you that that will get out and people will say, Oh, Burris is doing a fund-raiser, and then Rod and I are both going to catch hell. And if I do get appointed, that means I bought it. If I don't get appointed, then my people who I'm trying to raise money from are going to look at me and say, yes, what was that all about, Roland? I mean, so Rob, I'm in a -- I'm in a -- a dilemma right now, wanting to help the governor. (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It just seems, Senator, like you're covering yourself in the beginning of that comment, and then you're getting to the point of squeezing the guy, saying, Buddy, if I raise you this money, I better well get the seat, because I don't know how else to read it. I'm in a dilemma if you don't deliver the job. (INAUDIBLE) saying it here.

BURRIS: I had no intentions of raising any money for the governor, I told my partners that, because I could not raise any money for the governor. This is why I had that conversation. I did want to help the governor. Please understand. Because I had raised money for not only the governor but for all other kind of candidates. I've raised money for a whole lot of other candidates. But this here was a situation where there was a seat involved. And I couldn't raise any money because, if I did, it would look like I was trying to buy the seat. So that's what I always said, that I could not raise any funds because it would be a situation where I was, you know, trying to get something type of a quid pro quo, and therefore, I could not do it. And I did not do it. I didn't even make a phone call to raise any money. There were no attempts to raise any money.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: And I didn't even send a check. After I said I would send my normal thousand dollars to them, after I hung up that phone, I said to myself, Oh, I can't even send is a check because that would be mistaken as some type of a way I'm trying to buy the seat. So I didn't even send a check.

MATTHEWS: Why did you promise him to go to your law partner and have him, or rather Tim Wright, hold a fund-raiser in his name so that you could get political credit for it? Why'd you do that? Was that to cover the evidence?

BURRIS: No, see that comment was that -- you know -- and in his name -- it should have been in his name. And that's what -- Tim had said already to me that he couldn't run a fund-raiser, and I was just placating the governor's brother with that type of statement, knowing that we could not do anything. That was just to placate him.

MATTHEWS: Well, I just want to read you back your words.

BURRIS: Sure. A basically.

MATTHEWS: "And my law partner, we're going to try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright" -- in other words, covering up your role. BURRIS: No, no, no, no, no.

MATTHEWS: Why would you use the phrase "in the name of" if this was on the level?

BURRIS: It should have been -- it should have been -- what I was saying is -- and this is what I was telling the other officials when they looked at this -- that this was the way I was placating the governor. But I was thinking that Tim Wright would send out the -- and he wasn't going to do it. So he would send out the invitations. Tim would put on the fund-raiser. But Tim had already said...

MATTHEWS: Well, did you have the intention of holding a fund-raiser at your law firm?

BURRIS: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS: So you were bluffing. You were bluffing. You were telling the governor's brother you're going to give him something you weren't going to give him.

BURRIS: Well, that -- I'd already said up above that I couldn't raise any funds for him, so that -- that was just...

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you mean when you say you're going to -- I don't want to drive this any further. One last time, Senator.

BURRIS: Sure.

MATTHEWS: You said you're going to use your partner's name in your law firm to hold a fund-raiser. Did you intend at the time you said this to Rob Blagojevich, that you intended to hold a fund-raiser in the name of Tim Wright or not? Did you intend to hold a fund-raiser?

BURRIS: I did not intend...

MATTHEWS: OK, so you were lying -- you were lying to the governor's brother.

BURRIS: I did not intend to hold a fund-raiser for the governor's brother. We were seeking to placate the governor's brother because at that time, it was my intention not to alienate the governor's brother. That's all.

MATTHEWS: So your legal and political defense is that you weren't telling the truth to the governor's brother when you promised to hold a fund-raiser for him. That's your legal and political defense, that you weren't telling the truth.

BURRIS: Well, I was seeking to placate him because there was no way we were going to hold a fund-raiser, nor did we hold a fund-raiser...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: ... nor was there any effort to even give a fund-raiser.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: Was after that telephone conversation, Chris, nothing took place, absolutely nothing, because...

MATTHEWS: Well, here's the context because I...

BURRIS: We had come to the conclusion that I could not raise any money and nobody in my law firm or in the consulting firm was going to raise any money.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: Here's what I think is troubling.

BURRIS: Sure. Sure.

MATTHEWS: You start the conversation -- and I appreciate you giving me this exclusive conversation tonight because I've always liked you...

BURRIS: Sure.

MATTHEWS: ... as a public official, and I think you've had some real guts here.

BURRIS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: But this is very troubling. Quote, "I know you're calling to tell me you're going to make me a king of the world." That's the first thing you say to Rob (ph) Blagojevich. In other words, you're going to make me the senator. You're going to tell me the good news. And then he starts asking for the money and all this about fund-raising and fund-raising and how you're going to give him a personal check and you're going to set this thing up with your law partner. Then he talks about the 18 fund-raising events he's going to have, and you say, Well, I can join in one of those events, too. So you're offering more money. Then you say, number one, I want Rod -- I want to help the governor, your brother. And number two, I want this job. You're laying in the quid pro quo so clearly. It seems to me you're making it awful clear you want the job, you want to help him raise money, and that is play-to-pay, isn't it?

BURRIS: Chris, go back up to -- go back up -- up to that statement where I say, I cannot give you any money because I'm interested in getting appointed to the Senate seat.

MATTHEWS: Right. (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You didn't want to be caught doing it, is what you're saying.

BURRIS: No, no, no. I -- because I didn't. I even told my partners that. I told my law partners...

MATTHEWS: OK... (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... then why did you go -- OK, you give three indications that it's about appearances. One, you talk about appearances. And then you say your real concern...

BURRIS: No, this is -- this is a conversation...

MATTHEWS: ... is that your money people are going to be disappointed that you went out and hit them up for money but you didn't get the Senate seat. Then you talk about wiring the money through your law partner. Then you talk about making a personal contribution. Then you talk about coming back and hitting in some of these fund-raisers that they're holding and giving them further money. Then lay down the quid pro quo rather directly, saying, One, I want to help your brother. Two, I want this job. I mean, you're laying it in so clearly. It's very hard not to see the deal here.

BURRIS: Chris, there was no deal. That's what I was seeking to avoid. There was no deal.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: I knew that I could not do anything because of the potential of a quid pro quo.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: That's why I didn't do anything.

MATTHEWS: The last thing you say on the phone was... (CROSSTALK)

BURRIS: ... not even knowing that this was taped -- hold on a minute, Chris. Not even knowing that this was being taped or anything else, I had the foresight to say, even to my partners, Look, I can't give any money to the governor. It'll be look like I'm trying to buy this seat.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BURRIS: And therefore, I didn't. That's the bottom line. Nothing was ever...

MATTHEWS: OK, again...

BURRIS: Nothing was ever given...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: ... nor was there any attempt to make a phone call.

MATTHEWS: I don't know how this is going to go down in court. I do know that you promised the governor's brother that you'd raise money through your law firm, through the name of your partner, Tim Wright. You're now telling me that wasn't the truth. You weren't -- you did not, even at the moment you said that, intended to raise the money. That was just to...

BURRIS: Well...

MATTHEWS: ... as you put it, to placate him. But at the end of your conversation, the last thing you said to the governor's brother last fall was, And I will personally do something, OK? So you're again committing yourself to a personal contribution, in addition to the attempt you -- well, you now say was just BS, basically, that you never intended to raise the money through the law firm. And you promised to go to the fund-raisers, some of the 18 fund-raisers he was holding. And what else? And you were concerned at the appearances.

BURRIS: No, no...

MATTHEWS: That's clear. You were worried about exposure here.

BURRIS: And the other issue was at the last, when I said, I will send my check by December 15th, was the fact that I had promised him in our second conversation that I would -- I had given him a thousand dollars in June and I was planning to send a thousand dollars.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: Now, Chris, if I could buy the Senate seat for a thousand dollars, I think that that would, you know, be pretty miraculous.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: My sending a check on the 15th would have been a thousand dollar check. After I hung up the phone, my assessment was, I can't do that. And I didn't do that. I did not send a check.

MATTHEWS: OK, last question, Senator.

BURRIS: Sure.

MATTHEWS: What do you think the average Joe out there in Chicago thinks after hearing that you were getting hit up by the governor's brother for money, and you're promising... (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, what do you think he thinks happened here? Do you think the average person in Chicago, as much moxie as they have, thinks what was on here was a fiddle, that there was a deal here for you to help them raise money and you got the job?

BURRIS: Chris...

MATTHEWS: Do you think the average person is going to buy your argument that these are unrelated, that you just convinced the governor's brother, who's tough as nails, that you're going to ray the money but you're really not going to do it?

BURRIS: And I didn't do it.

MATTHEWS: You think people are going to believe that?

BURRIS: Chris, I didn't do it. I didn't even make a move to raise one dime for the governor's brother. There was no attempt...

MATTHEWS: OK. OK.

BURRIS: ... no overt act, no anything because I told him I could not. And I was letting everybody that I talked to... (CROSSTALK)

BURRIS: ... was interested in getting appointed to the Senate seat.

MATTHEWS: OK, my problem with you, Senator -- is you're a fine gentleman, you've had a great year, history of public service. Let me tell you this. I asked you on this program January 16th, did the governor ever ask you for anything? And you gave me an answer about how, I never talked to the governor.

BURRIS: Well, but that was... (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And then you said, He never -- he sought nothing from me. He sought nothing...

BURRIS: Chris, the governor never asked me for anything.

MATTHEWS: Well, what did his brother ask you for?

BURRIS: Well, the governor was trying to raise funds. Like, he was calling, you know, 1,800 other people.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: He was raising funds.

MATTHEWS: So what's the difference between the governor's brother asking you for money and you telling me that the governor didn't ask you for anything?

BURRIS: Because he didn't!

MATTHEWS: Isn't there a conflict there?

BURRIS: The governor -- the governor -- Chris, the governor never asked me for anything.

MATTHEWS: Well, what did his brother ask you for?

BURRIS: Oh, oh, oh, well, the -- oh, well, the governor was trying to raise funds. Like, he was calling, you know, 1,800...

MATTHEWS: Oh, OK.

BURRIS: ... 1,800 other people. I mean, he was raising funds.

MATTHEWS: So, what's the difference between the governor's brother asking you for money and you telling me that the governor didn't ask you for anything?

BURRIS: Because he didn't.

MATTHEWS: Isn't there a conflict there?

BURRIS: No, the governor didn't ask me for anything.

MATTHEWS: He had his brother do it.

BURRIS: Well, look, I -- I support all kind of candidates, Chris, in terms of fund-raisers.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Right.

BURRIS: Candidates called me all over, and I helped a whole lot of them with funds.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BURRIS: And, so, and then I don't -- I don't believe -- I don't consider that as asking for anything...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: ... because I knew that the Senate seat was -- was -- was...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: ... was -- that the Senate seat was in -- in play here...

MATTHEWS: The problem is, Senator, this tape -- I have the transcript in my hand -- is back and forth throughout your conversation with the governor's brother you wanting the Senate seat, them wanting money. You want the Senate seat, they wanting money, that is the cadence of that conversation.

BURRIS: And guess what? And guess what, Chris?

MATTHEWS: It's in the context of a deal.

BURRIS: Chris?

MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

BURRIS: Chris, absolutely. And, Chris, I -- I could certainly -- and you can see where I said that I couldn't give any money because it would look like I would be buying the seat.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BURRIS: So, that would clear that up. (CROSSTALK)

BURRIS: I mean, I was able to be -- to be -- have foresight to be able to do that. And there were some hundred -- 150 people were on -- were -- were on -- on -- on...

MATTHEWS: Right.

BURRIS: ... the governor's fund-raising list. I mean, they were just calling people to raise funds, because that was his whole agenda, to raise funds.

MATTHEWS: OK.

BURRIS: But in -- in terms of my situation...

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator...

BURRIS: Chris, listen one minute -- that I could not give anything, because I did not want to be a part of a pay-to-play. It's clear in that -- in that testimony. I didn't want to be considered like I'm trying to buy the seat.

MATTHEWS: Well...

BURRIS: Any contribution I would have given would mean that I was trying to be -- and that's the reason why I didn't give any money. There's no money even sent, no money even called to raise.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, as you say -- as you say, you never intended to make good on the deal you -- you -- you made with the governor's brother.

BURRIS: No -- no intentions whatsoever.

MATTHEWS: You told me you -- you were just placating him; it was just to make it look like you were interested in raising money; you didn't intend to. Senator Roland Burris, sir, thank you for joining us tonight on HARDBALL.

BURRIS: Thank you so much, Chris. I really appreciate it. Thank you, man.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir. When we return...

BURRIS: All right.

MATTHEWS: ... we will dissect what we have heard just now from the senator with two Chicago reporters. And, later, the battle is on over President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. The right and the left are agitating already. You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

Burris on tape

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rob

Audio of the wire-tapped phone call between Roland Burris and Robert Blagojevich has been made public.
The audio was recently posted on the U.S. District Court's Web site. It details a Nov. 13 conversation between Burris and Robert Blagojevich in which Burris talks about donating to ex-governor Rod Blagojevich. A transcript of the FBI wiretapped call was released yesterday and shows that Burris feared he'd be shunned publicly if he donated to the governor while he sought the appointment.
"I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in consideration for the appointment," Burris can be heard saying on tape. "If I do get appointed, that means I bought it." Burris ends the conversation saying he'll send Rod Blagojevich a check by Dec. 15.
Robert Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, said he welcomed the public disclosure of the audio.
"I want the world to hear my client and how he conducts himself," Ettinger said. Ettinger said it shows there was no quid pro quo and that his client was not pressuring Burris.
Burris says he wants to be in consideration for the appointment while making a donation. Robert Blagojevich can be heard warning Burris not to get his hopes up too high: "I want to manage expectations." He also tells Burris to do what he's comfortable doing.

Burris testy with media this morning

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By Jordan Wilson
Sun-Times Staff Reporter
URBANA -- Roland Burris denied wrongdoing Wednesday in his clouded appointment to the U.S. Senate seat, despite the release Tuesday of FBI wiretap transcripts that showed he was open to donating money to the now-indicted governor who appointed him.
The new details re-opened public scrutiny on the embattled Burris, who stormed off only three minutes into a 10-minute media availability Wednesday.
Burris said the impeachment panel that questioned him in January did not ask him "whether or not there was anything dealing with fund-raising."
"If I were asked that question at the impeachment hearing, I would have dealt with those things," Burris said. "I was not asked that question. Please check the transcripts."
In the Nov. 13 wiretap, Burris was recorded talking with Rob Blagojevich, the brother of the impeached governor.
The transcript details the two talking about Burris‚ willingness to contribute to the governor, and the possible improprieties of doing so while Burris was interested in the vacant U.S. Senate seat.
But Burris ends the conversation saying: "I will personally do something OK? And it will come to you before the 15th of December."
Burris side-stepped direct questions about the issue Wednesday, but said he did not hide those details.
"There was no attempt to do any, wheeling and dealing to not disclose," Burris said while weeding through reporters to his maroon SUV. "That did not take place."

U.S. District Court Clerk Michael Dobbins said the court will make audio available on its Web site at 3 p.m. http://www.ilnd.uscourts.gov/home/

The Sun-Times will also have it available on its Web site at www.suntimes.com at that time.

Stay tuned


BY NATASHA KORECKI
Federal Courts Reporter

Audio of the wire-tapped phone call between Roland Burris and Robert Blagojevich will not be made public -- at least for now, a spokesman for federal prosecutors in Chicago said today.
U.S. Attorney's spokesman Randall Samborn said his office is not releasing the audio of the Burris conversation, citing a court order that authorized its release to the U.S. Senate ethics committee -- but not to the public.
A transcript of the calls were made available by the court and docketed, which is why that was public yesterday, Samborn said.
A transcript of the Nov. 13 conversation between Burris and Robert Blagojevich was released yesterday showing that Burris feared he'd be shunned publicly if he donated to the governor while he sought the appointment.
"I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in consideration for the appointment," Burris said.
"If I do get appointed, that means I bought it." Burris ends the conversation saying he'll send Rod Blagojevich a check by Dec. 15.
Robert Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, said he supports releasing audio of the tape, saying the tape is favorable to his client.
"There's not one word about quid pro quo," Ettinger said. "There's no pressure. It shows that he wasn't pressuring Burris at all."

Here's judge's order releasing Burris tape

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Here's U.S. District Judge James Holderman's order, including his legal reasoning for releasing the recording to the U.S. Senate ethics committee.

show_temp-2.pl

Burris transcript: Vindicating? Or eyebrow-raising?

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Roland Burris' lawyer, Timothy Wright, said Tuesday the release of the transcript would finally settle questions about the junior Senator from Illinois.
But two members of the Illinois house impeachment panel said the tape raised additional questions. One member said it showed Burris was not truthful in his Jan. 8 testimony to the panel.

In the tape of a Nov. 13 conversation between Robert Blagojevich and Burris, Burris talks extensively of ways he could donate to the governor without it making him look bad publicly.

Consider these exchanges:
BURRIS: God knows number one, I, I wanna help Rod. Number two, I also wanna, you know hope I get a consideration to get that appointment.
...
BURRIS: And I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment.
BlAGOJEVICH: I hear ya. No, I hear ya.
BURRIS: And, and if I do that I guarantee you that, that will get out and people said, oh, Burris is doing a fund-raiser ad, and then Rod and I both gonna catch hell.
BLAGOJEVICH: Mm hm.
BURRIS: And if I do get appointed that means I bought it.
BLAGOJEVICH: Mmmm.
BURRIS: If I don't get appointed then my people who I'm trying to riase money from are gonna look at me, yeah, what what's that all about Roland. I mean, so, Rob, I'm in a I'm in a, a dilemma right now wanting to help the governor.
...
BURRIS: I know I could give him a check.
BLAGOJEVICH: yeah
BURRIS: Myself
BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah
BURRIS: And, and my law partner we were gonna try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright.
BLAGOJEVICH: Mm hm.
BURRIS: Okay, 'cause Tim is not looking for an appointment, okay.
BLAGOJEVICH: Okay.

Read for yourself (go to page 12) burristranscript.pdf

A transcript of the Nov. 13 conversation between Roland Burris and Robert Blagojevich indicates that Burris fears a donation to the governor has the negative connotation that: "Burris is trying to buy an appointment," Burris tells Robert Blagojevich.
"I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in consideration for the appointment."
"If I do get appointed, that means I bought it," Burris said if a donation were known.
The bombshell of the transcript? Burris suggested he could help Blagojevich through his lawyer. "My law partner, we were gonna try to do something through the law firm," Burris said. "I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright."
Wright told me moments ago that the reference to his name was not for a third party contribution.
"He asked me if I would do a fund-raiser and I told him absolutely not and I said he shouldn't do it either," Wright said of the reference to his name in the transcript. "That's what that's about."
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.


The U.S. Attorney's office is expected to release audio and transcript of the conversation today.
The recorded call between Roland Burris and Robert Blagojevich took place Nov. 13 on the Friends of Blagojevich land line, which was tapped by the FBI.
The Senate ethics panel asked the U.S. Attorney's office for the tapes in March, according to an opinion released today by Judge James Holderman.
The panel launched a preliminary inquiry into the "circumstances surrounding the appointment and seating of Senator Roland Burris," according to Holderman's opinion.

Burris tapes to be released today

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We're closer to getting the tape...Judge Holderman just handed me (personally) his order unsealing the Burris tape ... The government needed that to unseal the transcript and audio of Burris.

Details coming...

021809burris2_cst_feed_20090218_12_45_21_1451-282-400

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.

JUDGE: RELEASE BURRIS TAPE

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A federal judge today OK'd the release of a secret FBI wiretap involving U.S. Sen. Roland Burris and Rod Blagojevich's brother to a U.S. Senate committee investigating Burris.

The conversation is at issue because the committee is probing whether Burris was misleading during his testimony before an Illinois House impeachment panel. A Downstate prosecutor is also investigating whether Burris perjured himself.

Burris' lawyer, Timothy Wright, said the tapes will vindicate his client.
"I think the Senator told the truth the whole time and I think the tapes will indicate such."
In court, Wright did not oppose the tape's release.
"Senator Burris is not objecting to the Senate Ethics Committee hearing the tape," Wright said.
U.S. District Judge James Holderman made the issue public this morning. Myself and an AP reporter were inside the courtroom before the hearing but were asked to leave because the hearing was closed.
We left and Holderman asked prosecutors and defense laweyrs if they opposed unsealing the matter. No one opposed it, so Holderman opened the courtroom doors.

Here's the latest: Burris tapes to be public

blagospoof

While watching the Second City production "Rod Blagojevich Superstar," last night I was immediately struck by the familiarity of the jokes.
Punch-line after punch-line, the crowd chortled. But the punch-lines were, well, real. I finally leaned over to my husband: "They're not making that up, that really happened." (Or at least, it was alleged to have happened.)
"I guess if you take the truth and make it rhyme, it's pretty funny," he said of the musical.
The crowd that packed into the Shakespeare Theatre last night sure thought so, laughing pretty heartily throughout.
In one example, the character playing U.S. Senator Roland Burris approaches the mop-headed Blagojevich and tells him he needs help finding a job for one of his kids.
"Roland or Rolanda?" Blagojevich asks, to which everyone laughed (those are really the names of Burris' children.)
He says Roland Burris Jr. needs a job because "he was foreclosed on a property he bought for $1."
Again, the packed theatre bellowed in laughter. But the Sun-Times reported the foreclosure in February.
Now, of course, there were plenty of exaggerations and actors interjected stuff that wasn't true at all.
But overall, the troupe boiled down the six-year Blago saga into a ripped-from-the-headlines comedy, done in one act.

In a news release reacting to the massive corruption indictment lodged against former Gov. Blagojevich, U.S. Sen. Roland Burris praises the ex-governor for his final act in office --appointing Burris. Burris calls the appointment of himself "exceptional" and says he has a: "reputation of integrity and superior public service to the U.S. Senate seat."
Weeks after accepting the position, Burris plunged into a national scandal after the Sun-Times revealed he had dealings with the governor's brother about fund-raising but failed to initially disclose the discussions in sworn testimony.
Here's his release:

Response To Reaction From Senator Roland Burris On Blagojevich Indictment 

It is another sad day in our state's history that one more governor has been indicted by federal prosecutors.  During the 2002 gubernatorial primary,  Rod Blagojevich was a worthy opponent who ran on a platform of reform.  Now, that indictment charges have been filed, the people of Illinois will have the final say on whether he squandered the incredible generousity the people of Illinois gave him--their trust.

To Blagojevich's credit, he decided as a final act it was important to appoint someone with an exceptional reputation of integrity and superior public service to the U.S. Senate seat.  Blagojevich gave Illinois the chance to accomplish three worthy goals -- save the taxpayer's an expensive special election, give the state a representative of proven experience,  and show the rest of the world Illinois has good officials to take us beyond our tainted image.  His last words were, "Please don't let the allegations against me taint this good and honest man," Blagojevich said at the time.

To the extent those goals have not been met, the Democratic leadership can blame its own tainted motivations.  They have tried their best to discredit one of the few "clean" politicians Illinois has ever known, in order to do exactly what Blagojevich warned against.  They saw one of his final official acts as an attempt to outwit them.  So, instead of joining forces with Burris to work to get beyond this sad chapter, they decided to extend the "Blagojevich burlesque" for their own political motivations.

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