Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) will not face perjury charges in Illinois, a state prosecutor announced Friday.
Sangamon County States Attorney John Schmidt said that Burris vague statements to an Illinois legislative committee regarding how he was appointed to his Senate seat by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) do not merit criminal charges.
In a January affidavit to the state committee, Burris told lawmakers that he had no contact with Blagojevich associates before his appointment, but during his testimony days later he said he had spoken to one Blagojevich supporter. He later revealed in media interviews that he not only had multiple contacts with Blagojevich associates but that he had offered to fundraise for the then governor.
Recently released transcripts of a Burris phone call with Blagojevichs brother and fundraiser, Rob, revealed Burris was concerned that his potential fundraising for the governor might make it look as if he were trying to buy the seat.
Blagojevich was impeached for, among other things, allegedly attempting to sell President Barack Obamas Senate seat for campaign cash and political favors.
In a statement, Schmidt said he had completed his review of Burris testimony before the Illinois House Special Investigative Committee and that there is insufficient evidence to charge Senator Roland Burris with perjury because there is insufficient evidence to prove Senator Burris made a statement he knew to be false.
The statement continues, Some of his statements were vague, but vague statements cannot support a perjury charge.
Burris applauded the decision Friday.
I am obviously very pleased with todays decision by States Attorney John Schmidt. His investigation was both thorough and fair, and I am glad that the truth has prevailed, Burris said in a statement. This matter has now been fully investigated; I cooperated at every phase of the process, and as I have said from the beginning, I have never engaged in any pay-to-play, never perjured myself, and came to this seat in an honest and legal way. Todays announcement confirms all that. I am glad I can now put this matter behind me and get on with my work in the United States Senate serving the people of Illinois.
Burris still faces a potential rebuke from the Senate Ethics Committee, which has been conducting its own investigation into the Illinois Senators changing explanations of how he was appointed.
Senate Democratic leaders initially refused to seat Burris or anyone appointed by Blagojevich, but they eventually relented when Burris, a former state attorney general, produced the proper state paperwork for his appointment.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who counseled Burris to resign during the height of the scandal over his appointment, declined to comment, his spokesman said.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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