Durbin Reiterates He Will Not Support Burris in 2010

Posted May 27, 2009 at 2:27pm

Amid fresh revelations that Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) offered to give former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) campaign cash while he was angling for a Senate appointment, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reiterated on Wednesday that he would not be supporting his home state colleague for re-election in 2010.

At an appearance with Illinois mayors, Durbin expressed his disappointment with Burris’ comments in a recently released transcript of the junior Senator’s conversation with the now-impeached governor’s brother, Robert Blagojevich.

“We stuck our neck out for him— Durbin said, according to NBCchicago.com. “Now, it turns out he did not give full answers— to questions asked by both the Senate Democratic leadership and the Illinois General Assembly about his contacts with a governor accused of a pay-to-play scheme involving the Senate seat of President Barack Obama.

Durbin and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) initially resisted seating Burris because of the scandal surrounding Blagojevich. The former governor was arrested in December for allegedly trying to sell the vacant Senate seat for campaign cash and political favors. Blagojevich appointed Burris after his arrest.

After revelations in February that Burris may have misled an Illinois state committee about his contacts with Blagojevich associates, Durbin personally urged Burris to step down, and he told Burris that he could not support him if he ran for re-election.

“I’ve told him that I would not be supporting him in 2010 for re-election,— Durbin said at the time.

A transcript of a call between Burris and Robert Blagojevich, released by a federal judge on Tuesday, reveals that Burris both asked to be appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Obama and promised to personally send a check to the governor’s campaign fund.

In the transcript, Burris talked about trying to raise money for the governor through his law firm, so that it would not appear to be a quid pro quo arrangement should he eventually be picked for the seat. There is no evidence Burris ever followed through on his promise to raise campaign cash.

Though Durbin will not be supporting any Burris candidacy, he indicated at a Tuesday press conference that the junior Senator was performing adequately.

“I think Sen. Burris has been a reliable vote on the president’s agenda,— Durbin said. He added that Burris has performed mundane duties like presiding over the Senate “more and more.—

“I’m told he is dutiful in attending his committee hearings,— Durbin said. “I’ve worked with him. I think we’ve had a positive working relationship, and I want that to continue.—

Burris has not yet decided whether to run for re-election, but he has been holding fundraisers and has embarked this week on a tour of downstate Illinois — moves many believe signal his interest in running for a full term.

Both the Senate Ethics Committee and a state prosecutor are investigating Burris for his conflicting statements on how he received the Senate appointment. Initially, Burris filed an affidavit in January with the state committee investigating the governor saying he had no contacts with Blagojevich associates. He later testified under oath before the same committee that he had only one contact, and he filed an amended affidavit in February stating he’d had several contacts with the governor’s staff and family.

Burris later acknowledged in press interviews that he had offered to raise money for Blagojevich, even as he was lobbying the governor’s allies to be appointed to Obama’s seat.