Durbin Continues to Respond to New Burris Allegations

Posted February 18, 2009 at 7:13pm

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released an expanded statement Wednesday on allegations that his home-state colleague, Sen. Roland Burris (D), misled the Illinois state legislature about his contacts with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who was removed from office for, among other things, attempting to sell the Senate appointment for political favors.

Durbin said reports that Burris not only may have lied to the legislature but also attempted to raise campaign funds for Blagojevich “are troubling and raise serious questions which need to be looked at very carefully.”

Earlier Wednesday, Durbin told the Chicago Tribune that “at this point, [Burris’] future in the Senate seat is in question.”

The Senate Ethics Committee has opened a preliminary inquiry into the matter, and a local Illinois prosecutor is looking to see whether perjury charges should be brought against Burris.

“This is the appropriate course of action and I await the outcome of those investigations. The people of Illinois deserve nothing less,” Durbin said.

Durbin noted that he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) explicitly told Burris in January that, because his appointment came from Blagojevich, he needed to appear before the Illinois General Assembly’s impeachment panel “to testify openly, honestly and completely about the nature of his relationship with the former governor, his associates and the circumstances surrounding this appointment.”

“Now the accuracy and completeness of his testimony and affidavits have been called into serious question,” Durbin added. “Every day there are more and more revelations about contacts with Blagojevich advisors, efforts at fundraising and omissions from his list of lobbying clients. This was not the full disclosure under oath that we asked for.”

Durbin made a shorter statement to the Associated Press earlier in the day. He has been traveling overseas in Greece and Turkey this week and is not expected to return until Friday.