Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Burris asking Senate Ethics panel for permission to open Legal Expense Fund. Scoop.


WASHINGTON--Embattled Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) is asking the Senate Select Committee on Ethics for permission to open a legal expense fund, I've learned.

Burris filed the request with the committee on Monday. The law firm handling the filing is Gonzalez, Saggio, Harlan led by Burris attorney Tim Wright, who has been advising Burris since his controversial appointment by impeached Gov. Blagojevich.

The treasurer named on the filing is Roderick Sawyer, former Mayor Eugene Sawyer's son. ( Eugene Sawyer's nephew, Kerry, is a senior advisor on the Burris Washington staff.)

The purpose for establishing the fund, according to the filing: "to pay for expenses incurred by the Senator in connection with his appointment to the US Senate on December 30th, 2008. Due to the controversy surrounding his appointment by former Illinois Governor Rod Balgojevich, Senator Burris incurred legal expenses to support his eventual swearing in on January 15th, 2009 in both Illinois and Washington, DC.

"In addition, even after he was seated, Senator Burris has continued to require representation amid accusations of perjury and other alleged improprieties relating back to his appointment to the senate seat."

Jim O'Connor, Burris communications director, said the Ethics Committee ruling on the permission request could take about four weeks, and no money can be raised in the meantime.

Burris told Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that he has hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills; the amount could be as high as $400,000, according to the Burris camp.


Burris is a tragedy and a farce. But worse than that, he's just simply mediocre, a non-entity in a high-stakes game. As a lifelong resident of Illinois, I'm ashamed at what we've become. Anyway, keep up the great work Lynn.

Did the senate create the defense fund for people to get into office through felonious means?

$400,000? Come on! I am an attorney and there is no way he could have incurred that amount in legal fees. He wanted the job but now he wants others to pay for it.

good luck on his raising money; maybe bobby rush will give him some,right. I can't imagine anyone in their right mind giving him money unless, they work on his staff. 2010 can't get here quick enough, and that goes for that pusillanimous senior senator,Richard Durbin as well. Durbin should be arrested for pandering!!

So, on top of the anger and frustration the tax payers have, Burris wants them to pick up the tab for his lying?


sen mow-ron jr sen of ill its time to exit the stage.........good bye farewell.good riddance.

How did you incur $400k of legal expenses in two months. If he is given a legal fund, it should be audited before any payments are made to this bogus lawyer of yet another politician's son. It's bad enough that Burris's son is working with the IL housing authority although his house is in foreclosure. Maybe that is why the legal expenses are almost $400k, since Burris's son owes that on his home.

I will line up a day early to vote to get this man out of DC.

This takes the cake....Is this guy for real??? WE now are asked to pay for this IDIOT'S legal fees? OH MY GOD!!! What's next.....

Mark--the media coverage of Blago and Burris is the real farce. This was punditry packaged as 'reporting'--and the impeachment--what a travesty.

Is this for real??? This IDIOT has the nerve to ask for money for his legal fees??? All I can say is: OH MY GOD!!!

I am afraid this is just a public announcement that he is a US Senator who can bought if you help pay his legal fees. He learned well from his appointer, just set up a seperate account and claim that donations will have NO influence on his decisions at all....what is next a book deal?

As long as Burris pay out of pocket and not the Taxpayers!!! He signed an Affidavit saying one thing and gave information publicly saying something else. What! He doesn't read what he writes and signs? His, arrogance stuns me!! Is it possible to find a less self-serving Politician?

To clarify - a legal defense fund is NOT taxpayer money, except to the extent that the people who want to donate to it are taxpayers. It's not public money, so we (as US and Illinois citizens) are not picking up the tab. Unfortunately, we ARE paying a heavy price just by having Senator "I couldn't remember or I wasn't given the opportunity to say it - pick one" represent Illinois in Congress.

It is this behavior that astounds me in these types of politicians. First they worm and lie their way into office and when they are called on their conduct they want strangers or cronies to bail them out of their self imposed trouble. How about this concept Mr. Burris, had you been forth coming in all aspects of your appointment instead of tactical ommisions you would have no need for lawyers of any sort. You caused the problem you pay for it.

Thank heavens people are waking up to the fact that this man is an idiot. I felt like I was the "lone ranger" for awhile. Let's hope he has enough sense to NOT RUN!!!

Right now, Senator Burris is busy representing us in the U.S. Senate as he should be; but I do hope he runs for re-election. He has a very distinguished career of public service, some of which I was not aware of.

I will summarize some of what I found out. Roland W. Burris served as the National Bank Examiner for the Comptroller of the Currency U.S. Treasury Department (1963-1964) and Vice President of the second largest bank in Illinois - the Continental Illinois National Bank where he worked both in the Trust Tax Department and Commercial Lending (1964-1973). Senator Burris has been elected four times to statewide office in Illinois - three terms as Comptroller (1979-1991); served as the administrative officer in the Governor's Cabinet in charge of Central Management Services for the State of Illinois (1973-1977); and one term as Attorney General (1991-1995). From 1991 to 1994 he served as a Trustee of the Financial Accounting Foundation Board. Immediately before coming to the Senate, he served as Chairman/CEO of Burris & Lebed Consulting, LLC, a strategic consulting service concentrating in the areas of public relations, governmental representation, political strategies, and corporate strategies. Senator Burris also led the effort before the U.S. Congress to create a Comptroller for the U.S. Government, which became the number 4 spot in the Office of Management and Budget. He served three years on the Executive Board as a Trustee of the Government Finance Office Association of the United States and Canada. In addition, he served as President of the National Association of Comptroller, as well as, President of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers.

Mr. Burris was born and raised in Centralia, Illinois. He attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He earned his Juris Doctorate Degree (JD) from Howard University School of Law. He is married to the Dr. Berlean M. Burris, PhD and is the father of two adult children.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 19, 2009 10:28 AM.

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