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More questions pile up as Burris heads to the bunker

Thursday, Feb 19, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Uh-oh

The Chicago Sun-Times reports in Thursday’s editions that Burris had more contacts with Blagojevich’s chief of staff before being appointed than he disclosed in his most recent affidavit.

Citing phone records and interviews, the Sun-Times reports Burris called John Harris four times in the weeks following the Nov. 4 election, and made a hard pitch to Harris about being appointed to the Senate. Burris has indicated his discussions with Harris included only passing reference to the Senate seat.

…Adding… The Sun-Times link wasn’t working earlier. It is now. Check this out…

One of the calls to John Harris came Nov. 13, the day Burris discussed the possibility of raising money for the governor with Blagojevich’s brother Robert, according to phone records obtained by the Sun-Times and sources. That call was likely caught on an FBI wiretap.


* And

A list of lobbying clients that U.S. Sen. Roland Burris has given state legislators doesn’t match records kept by the Illinois secretary of state’s office, the Cook County clerk or the Chicago Board of Ethics, all of which register lobbyists and keep track of their clients. ]…]

In at least 10 cases, clients that Burris or his firm represented, according to government databases, don’t appear on the list received by lawmakers.

* I heard him say this yesterday and I thought I was hallucinating

Yet he has only managed to make matters more confusing. Wednesday, speaking in downtown to the City Club of Chicago, Burris was asked if he was wrong to attempt to raise funds at the time he was being considered the seat.

“I was never considered for the seat,” Burris, 71, said defiantly.

* Reporters won’t be allowed to ask Burris questions about these latest twists. From a press release sent late yesterday afternoon…

U.S. Senator Roland W. Burris will postpone his Illinois Listening Tour tomorrow, Thursday, February 19th, in order to hold private meetings. The Senator will not travel to Rockford tomorrow as previously scheduled, but will resume his Illinois Listening Tour on Friday, February 20th.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs, and the Senate Committee on Armed Forces, Senator Burris will travel to North Chicago on Friday, February 20th to tour the North Chicago Medical Center, and to tour the Great Lakes Naval Training Center before having lunch with the recruits. Both events on Friday will be completely closed to the press.

So, he’s using soldiers as human shields. The man gets more like Rod Blagojevich every day.

* Burris’ “media adviser” just quit, but not before talking to Sneed

“It’s gonna be a barrier of rope lines and stanchion-style barricades between Burris and the press from now on to avoid situations like this,” said Erkes, who — by the way — resigned from his job late Wednesday afternoon. “It was only a temporary job. I was just helping out an old friend.”

• • The Burris shot: Burris also is nixing inquiries from the press for the time being. “He will not be talking to the press until the state and federal inquiries [regarding his Blagojevich impeachment panel testimony] is concluded,” said Erkes.

It could be months, even years, before those two probes are over.

* I ran part of this quote yesterday. It’s the rhetorical device Burris is using to claim he never perjured himself…

“Yes. Yes I told people around the governor that I wanted to serve in the Senate… No, I did not have conversations about my appointment - I’m talking about actually being appointed - with anyone other than the governor’s attorney.”

The Daily Herald explains

In Burris’ first affidavit about his appointment, he stated “there was not any contact between myself or any of my representatives with Governor Blagojevich or any of his representatives regarding my appointment to the United States Senate” before the governor’s lawyer offered the post after the chief executive’s arrest.

In testimony to lawmakers a few days later, Burris said he talked to former Blagojevich chief of staff Lon Monk about his interest. Burris also said he talked to “friends” about it. When asked who else he approached, Burris said “I can’t recall.”

In an affidavit released last weekend, Burris said he talked to three of Blagojevich’s top staffers, a union official close to the governor, and the governor’s brother, who raised money for his brother’s campaign, about his desire to seek the appointment.

Burris is making a distinction in his defense about conversations he had about his actual appointment and those involving his solicitation of that appointment.

It’s bogus, but there you have it.

* Yesterday, Burris said…

“I ask you today to stop the rush to judgment. You know the real Roland. I’ve done nothing wrong, and I have absolutely nothing to hide.”

Mark Brown destroys that argument

The truth is Burris flew under the radar for years and years, projecting a certain base level of competence while retaining power by maintaining his friendships with the political establishment.

But that was no more the “real Roland Burris” than the one with the outsize ego who has been under the spotlight since he stepped in front of a post-Christmas news conference alongside Blagojevich, stubbornly determined to capture the brass ring long denied him by voters.

* Zorn predicts

If he had a knack for understanding the moment, he’d quit now and not wait for the voters to render their verdict in 2010.

But he doesn’t. So he won’t.

The Sun-Times and Peoria Journal Star say he should resign anyway.

* Sen. Durbin issued a warning

“At this point, his future in the Senate seat is in question,” Durbin said.

And gave the Trib some background

“Harry and I were standing on the Senate floor Friday and Sen. Burris came up and say, ‘Hey, listen. I’m filing another affidavit with the (Illinois House) impeachment committee and I’ll give you copies. There are just a few things I want to clean up,’” Durbin recalled Burris saying.

“I talked to Harry afterwards and, as we’re both attorneys, the red lights started flashing,” Durbin said. “We better take a look at this thing and see what’s going on.”

Instead, Durbin left the country and his office told reporters for days that he hadn’t seen the documents so he couldn’t comment on them.

* Alexi Giannoulias isn’t the only one eyeing Burris’ seat. Another African-American has her sights set on the Senate as well…

Confirming political rumors, Cheryle Jackson, the president and chief executive officer of Chicago Urban League, says “I am considering a race” for the Senate seat now held by Mr. Burris.


Previously, she worked as national director of state and local affairs at Amtrak, and as the first press secretary to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But Ms. Jackson never was considered in the Blagojevich inner circle, and left in his first term.

Inner circle or not, she worked for Blagojevich. Imagine what her quotes defending Blagojevich could do to her next year.

It is unclear how the shift will be received by black voters. But the prospective Jackson candidacy is getting a green light from one key figure, state Sen. James Meeks, D-Chicago.

I think [Mr. Burris’] story keeps changing minute by minute,” Mr. Meeks said in a phone interview, referring to the controversy over how Mr. Burris got the Senate pick. “Roland Burris didn’t win the seat (at the polls). He’s fair game.”

Now that’s an interesting twist.

* Related…

* Burris Senate expulsion no time soon

* Rep. Halvorson calls Burris questions ’sickening’

* Doubts cast on perjury investigation

* Mr. Burris goes to lunch

* Burris should quit, says Hare — ‘Enough’s enough’

* Burris has enough clout to avoid resigning

* Burris in the bunker. Cancels Thursday schedule. Durbin frosty Burris statement

* Burris is no longer taking your questions

* The Burris ‘tour’ appears to have taken a detour

* Burris Cancels Public Schedule To Meet With Aides

* Burris stands up in defense

* Roland Burris feels the heat as questions swirl

* Despite rising demands that he resign, Roland Burris remains defiant

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  1. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:12 am:

    Burris is the next William Blount… Whee!

  2. - Belle - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:15 am:

    ==Burris had more contracts with Blagojevich’s chief of staff before being appointed ==

    contacts or contracts?

  3. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:15 am:

    Does this make this now a “Not Listening Tour?”

  4. - sal-says - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:27 am:

    Is there a formal class for these guys?

    Burris seeems to be following former gov. goofy’s behavior almost to a T.

  5. - Wacker Drive - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:28 am:

    Roland Burris will resign before April 7, 2009

  6. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:29 am:

    “I ask you today to stop the rush to judgment. You know the real Roland. I’ve done nothing wrong, and I have absolutely nothing to hide.”

    Now step away from the barrier of rope lines and stanchion-style barricades between us or I’ll tazer you.

  7. - Sangamon - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:29 am:

    I wish I was on a Blackberry, because all I can think to say is “OMG.”

  8. - Leroy - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:34 am:

    Well I guess this answers my question “Who will the scapegoat be once Blago is gone?”

    New question: Who will the target of our ire be after Burris is gone?

  9. - zatoichi - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:41 am:

    Burris sounds more like a Blagojevich excuse/statement clone everyday. That’s not how it happened (ignore/forget any fact to the contrary)and it is all out of context.

    I realize you need a strong ego to be elected, but it seems every politician’s statement or action has become instant fodder for examination for some level of fault or mistatement. Unfortunately, Burris and Blagojevich have given much credence to that basic concept. Techology is again coming back to bite people who are not careful or consistent about what they say and do. Outcome: Learn that lesson or your past will be repeated to you especially if you conveniently ‘forget’/'re-imagine’ how it happened.

  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:44 am:

    –Well I guess this answers my question “Who will the scapegoat be once Blago is gone?”New question: Who will the target of our ire be after Burris is gone?–

    Leroy, these guys aren’t victims. They’ve gotten themselves into these messes on their own but on our dime. They’re messing up our work. Public servants, remember?

    –“At this point, his future in the Senate seat is in question,” Durbin said.–

    What’s Durbin talking about now? Expulsion by the Senate? Not a chance.

  11. - Question - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:49 am:

    Is there really anything left to be said about this, other than, of course, “I, Roland Burris, hereby resign my U.S. Senate seat effective immediately,”?

  12. - Proud Goo-Goo - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    The distinction Burris is trying to make between conversations about the appointment being offered and the appointment being sought makes no sense. The US Senate wanted to know what led up to the appointment, not just the words used in offering it.

    Take this to the extreme of an actual fully realized quid pro quo scenario. Blago puts an RFP of sorts out for the seat. His folks talk to potential bidders and get he ten bids. He looks them over, then makes a decision (highest, lowest — doesn’t matter) and sends his defense attorney out to say to the winner, You got it.

    Now wouldn’t those conversations about the bids be important — more important — than the “You got it” conversation?

  13. - Cynic - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    The Senate should have stuck do its guns and refused to seat him.

    Now, the Senate MUST conduct its own investigation of whether Roland lied to the Senate leadership or the Senate Rules Committee when the Senate was considering whether or not to seat him.

    If the investigation finds Burris did lie (a foregone conclusion, so it seems), the Senate should immediately expel Roland for improper conduct.

  14. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:00 am:

    Favorite Burris quote from the Testimony Transcript (In response to Rep. Tracy’s repeated requests for names):

    ==And so I’m — and I can start giving you names if you need names of people who you can follow up after that, after November 4th I can certainly give you a few names, but I can’t give you the thousands of people who were involved in this.== (p. 67, lines 17-21)

    Thousands of people who were involved!!! Priceless.

  15. - Heartless Libertarian - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:00 am:

    The democrats used Burris as a tool when they needed him… now they don’t need him… and they also need a distraction while they expand their power (i.e. nationalization of the banking system). So, congrats to the democrats for being able to orchestrate such a brilliant move and keeping the Illinois and American people in stunned silence. Much more of this, and I will be nostalgic for George Bush.

  16. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:02 am:

    I guess ole Roland is having a let’s get our story straight meeting today.

    If his intention is to purposly confuse people by having so many stories and revelations that you can’t keep up, it is working-at least on me. The problem is, I don’t think this is intentional.

  17. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:03 am:

    HL, read your comment again. You flatly contradicted your own tinfoil hat theory.

  18. - Skirmisher - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:05 am:

    The Republicans are really going to have a field day with that footage of Durbin, Harry Reid, and Burris all sitting together for the cameras like three old pals. Durbin has repeatedly looked foolish and weak through this whole sordid saga, and I have a feeling his stock in high places has tumbled along with that of Roland Burris. Blagojevich knew exactly what he was doing when he picked Burris for this seat and then set up the black caucus to see that it got rammed through against the better judgement of almost everyone.

  19. - James the Intolerant - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:06 am:

    Don’t know if there are many Warren Zevon fans here, but to the tune of the immortal “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner”, although he was a mercenary he had more integrity than Burris:

    Roland was a lawyer/lobbyist in the Land of Lincoln
    Though pretty successful, he thirsted for the big one
    He was swamped for the US Senate and governor but thought many still wanted to see ‘em,
    And he still had a space open for a position on the mausoleum.

    Blago had a senate seat for the highest bidder,
    But after the indictment no one would consider.
    But through back channels Rod & Ro converged,
    And they hatched the scheme to make Roland master of his universe.

    Roland the shameless former attorney general,
    Pride of Centralia trying to even up the score.
    They can still see his shameless body wandering through the night,
    Fearing the muzzle flash of Pat Fitzgeralds gun.

  20. - Leroy - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:06 am:

    Wordslinger - I beg to differ.

    Blago was elected by the voters twice. They knew what they were getting.

    Burris - Everyone had their hand on a lead pipe when he was appointed. Event the Illinois Washington contingent. Lots and lots of talk. Then nothing. Now talk.

    Why didn’t all these “outraged” people do their jobs to begin with?

  21. - Heartless Libertarian - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:07 am:

    Okay, so they no longer need him as a Senator, they need him as a distraction.

  22. - Leroy - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:10 am:

    I laugh whenever Eric Zorn expects Illinois politicians to not act like Illinois politicians.

    What part of “Where’s mine?” does Zorn not understand?

  23. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:21 am:

    Leroy, you beg to differ with what?

    You said Blago and Burris were scapegoats (for what you didn’t say).

    I said they are not victims and have made their own messes.

    I’m not following you.

  24. - ConservativeVeteran - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    Although Blagojevich was elected twice, in 2006, he won with 49% of the vote. The majority of voters voted against him, so we should expect the majority of Illinois voters to dislike him, especially after his arrest.

  25. - carbon deforestation - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    It is funny to me to see JASON ERKES try to escape any blame for this disaster. He clearly was in on Burris’ inner circle since appointment day. Isn’t he the same genius who helped Blair Hull out of his wife-beating scandal? How’d that one work for him? He should have seen the writing on the wall with Burris - everyone else did!

    Memo to Alexi: don’t hire this guy.

  26. - Chanson - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 12:13 pm:

    Would an African-American from south of Cook and collar counties please step up and run for the next vacant U.S. Senate seat and it does not matter if Republican, Democrat or Independant. It also wouldn’t hurt for Senator Durbin to have some real competition for once

  27. - Macbeth - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 12:13 pm:

    Illinois politicians don’t resign.

    There’s your t-shirt slogan.

  28. - steve - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 12:36 pm:

    have any of the better followed polling organizations run a poll as to whether the Senator’s Illinois constituents would like to see this clownshow resolve itself with Tombstone resigning?

  29. - Red Ranger - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 12:37 pm:

    “I was never considered for the seat,” Burris, 71, said defiantly.

    Didn’t Burris say that when he talked with Lon Monk, that Monk said he had heard Burris’ name had be mentioned as a possible replacement?

  30. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 12:58 pm:

    RR: There were “thousands” of friends considering him…he said so himself.

  31. - Macbeth - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 1:37 pm:

    I bet Danny Davis is glad he turned it down.

    What grief. How can this stuff make any senator an effective advocate for the citizens of Illinois?

  32. - Qwerty - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 2:31 pm:

    From the SJ-R:

    Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes on Thursday became the first statewide constitutional officer to join the growing list of people calling on U.S. Sen. Roland Burris to resign amid questions about how Burris got appointed to the Senate.

  33. - Hair today, gone.... - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 4:00 pm:

    What I find most shocking is how dim witted Burris appears to be. How is heaven’s name was he ever elected as AG? The bulb ain’t very bright!

  34. - Ghost - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 4:10 pm:

    Burris has no honor or sense of honor. he should be booted, but the wheels of government grind oh so slowly. I am sure the local perjury proces and any senate investigation will move at such a pace that Burris will be allowed to retain his position, and salary, until the next election.

    When it comes to governemtn officials, lady justice is mired in molasses.

  35. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 6:03 pm:


    CHICAGO – A group of black ministers who previously supported U.S. Sen. Roland Burris now plan to ask for his resignation, one of the ministers told The Associated Press on Thursday. Many of the city’s influential black pastors supported Burris because of his scandal-free reputation — even though he was appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich after the governor was arrested.

    But, prompted by revelations Burris attempted to raise money for Blagojevich while seeking the Senate job vacated by President Barack Obama, some of those pastors will ask Burris to resign, according to the minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a meeting with Burris had not yet been scheduled.

  36. - Bobs yer - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 6:40 pm:

    Now I’m feeling bad for the guy. Everyone who formerly supported him is bailing.

    Obviously he’s flawed for working with Citizen Blag. but it’s becoming pretty obvious that he’s not very bright.

    There’s Something very shakespearean about the whole story.

  37. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 7:46 pm:

    ==Would an African-American from south of Cook and collar counties please step up and run for the next vacant U.S. Senate seat and it does not matter if Republican, Democrat or Independant.==

    Sounds like the Alan Keyes — is he available?

  38. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 7:59 pm:

    ==There’s Something very shakespearean about the whole story.==

    Shakespeare? I dont’ see it. More Monty Python.

  39. - Lynn S - Thursday, Feb 19, 09 @ 9:13 pm:

    Amen, Wordslinger!

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