BURRIS’ NEW BLAGO BREAKDOWN…. It seemed like the story was just about over. Newly-appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) had disclosed his ties to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), and Blagojevich has been impeached. Attention then shifted to the disgraced governor’s criminal charges and Burris’ plans for 2010.
But as it turns out, there’s one more wrinkle.
Senator Roland W. Burris of Illinois acknowledged in documents made public Saturday that the brother of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich sought campaign fund-raising help from him in the weeks and months before his appointment to succeed Barack Obama as the state’s junior senator.
Mr. Burris said he provided no money to Governor Blagojevich’s campaign in response to the brother’s request.
The disclosure was different from Mr. Burris’s earlier descriptions, including one under oath, of his conversations with those closest to the former governor. It raised new questions about events that preceded Mr. Burris’s unusual appointment in late December and prompted some Republican lawmakers in Illinois to immediately demand an inquiry into whether Mr. Burris committed perjury.
Now, this isn’t a pay-to-play problem. There’s no evidence that Burris gave Blagojevich any money, or agreed to do any fundraising. Burris, at this point, isn’t accused of any corruption. For the senator, that’s the good news.
The bad news is, this new revelation is the third version of events relating to his contacts with the impeached governor, and yesterday’s acknowledgement appears to flatly contradict what Burris told the Illinois House impeachment committee — under oath.
The AP noted that the impeachment panel “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.” Burris said he had not. Yesterday, he said Blagojevich’s brother asked Burris for fundraising help — three times — while Burris was under consideration for a Senate appointment.
What’s odd is that Burris probably had no reason to lie about this. By all appearances, the governor’s brother sought fundraising help, Burris declined to play along, and Burris got the appointment anyway. There may be details we don’t yet know, but so far, it seems Burris didn’t have an incentive to hide his three conversations with Robert Blagojevich, but he did anyway.
The lead Republican on the impeachment committee is seeking an outside investigation into whether Burris committed perjury.
As for the senator’s office, aides declined interview requests yesterday, but Burris issued a statement emphasizing the fact that he “did not donate or help raise a single dollar for the governor from those conversations and would never consider making a donation through a third party.”
That’s probably true. It also misses the point.