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Burris's Changing Testimony

POSTED: 02:22 PM ET, 02/18/2009 by Derek Kravitz

Just when you thought former Gov. Rod Blagojevich had drifted from the limelight for good, the senate he appointed, Roland W. Burris (D-Ill.), has brought the ex-governor's scandal back to the forefront.

Roland W. Burris

Burris told reporters yesterday in Peoria, Ill., that he tried to raise money for the scandal-ridden Blagojevich at the same time he was campaigning for an appointment to the Senate.

Burris said he contacted "some people" about holding a $10,000 to $15,000 fundraiser at the request of Blagojevich's brother and chief fundraiser, Robert Blagojevich, The Post's Peter Slevin reports.

The pitch fell on deaf ears, Burris said, and he quickly gave up the effort, he said. But that story is the fifth version of his relationship with Blagojevich and his team.

The inconsistencies are noticeable when compared to his sworn statements in front of a state House impeachment panel, where Burris told Illinois lawmakers that he had only a brief conversation with Rod Blagojevich, before being named to the seat Dec. 30. In testimony before the House committee Jan. 8, he added that he discussed the seat with a longtime Blagojevich friend last summer.

There was no mention of any contacts between Burris and Blagojevich's brother.

The Sangamon County State's Attorney and the Senate ethics committee opened their own investigations into Burris's statements yesterday. Burris said he "welcomes" the probes, according to The Associated Press.

This is not the first time Burris's role in Blagojevich fundraisers has been questioned.

In 2006 and 2008, Burris was invited to pricey fundraisers for the governor and told the Chicago Tribune that he had maintained a "friendship" with Blagojevich. He later became the interim chairman of the governor's commission on state pensions and Burris and his consulting firm donated at least $20,000 to Blagojevich for his last re-election bid.

Still, the scrutiny of Burris's testimony has sparked calls for the freshman senator's resignation. The Washington Post urged him to give up his seat and the Chicago Tribune bluntly said that Burris's story about his ties to Blagojevich "gets worse with every telling."

"Enough. Roland Burris must resign," the newspaper wrote in an editorial.

By Derek Kravitz |  February 18, 2009; 2:22 PM ET
Previous: Burris Probes Begin, Texas Firm Accused of $8B Fraud, Lending by Bailout Recipients Drops | Next: Report: Nats' 'Smiley' Isn't Who He Says He Is


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