Burris Claims All Blagojevich Contact Was Appropriate

Posted February 15, 2009 at 5:20pm

Updated: 7:50 p.m. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) proclaimed his innocence at a press conference Sunday afternoon, following news reports that former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother reached out to him for campaign cash — a detail that was omitted from the Illinois Senator’s sworn testimony in front of the state Senate in January. Burris hosted the lively and contentious press conference following a report in the Chicago Sun-Times that Blagojevich’s brother asked Burris for $10,000 in campaign cash in January according to a Feb. 5 affidavit. “Yes, I had contact with representatives and friends of the former governor about the Senate seat,” Burris said. “None of it was inappropriate.” Blagojevich was impeached from office at the end of January — more than two months after the Justice Department released a complaint against him alleging he plotted to sell his appointment to fill President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat, among other corruption charges. Burris and his attorneys called the Feb. 5 affidavit “voluntary” because after reviewing his testimony to the state Senate in January, they said his conversation with Blagojevich’s brother was omitted because the line of questioning went in another direction. Burris was also clear that he refused to donate to Blagojevich’s campaign fund. “I made it fully clear to him that I would not contribute,” Burris said. “It would be a major point of conflict because of my interest in the Senate seat,” he added. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Roll Call: “Senator Burris told Senator Reid and Senator Durbin on Friday that he filed an affidavit to clarify his testimony before the Illinois Legislature. Clearly it would have been better if Senator Burris had provided this information when he first testified. Senator Reid is reviewing the affidavit and will await any action by Illinois legislative leaders after they review the matter.”