February 19th, 2009
11:05 AM ET
9 years ago

Burris spokesman resigns

A spokesman for Illinois Democratic Sen. Roland Burris has resigned.

A spokesman for Illinois Democratic Sen. Roland Burris has resigned.

(CNN) - A spokesman for embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris resigned Thursday in the wake of new disclosures about requests that Burris raise money for disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich while seeking a U.S. Senate appointment.

"I initially began helping the Senator on a temporary basis because he is a long term friend who I served several years when he was (Illinois) Attorney General," Jason Erkes said in a written statement to CNN.

"It is now time for me to get back to focusing on ... my newly formed strategic communications business."

The statement did not comment on his feelings about the new disclosures.

A defiant Sen. Burris insisted Wednesday that he was innocent of any wrongdoing in his appointment to President Barack Obama's former Senate seat, even as calls for his resignation intensified.

The Senate Ethics Committee has launched an investigation of Burris in the wake of disclosures that he spoke with the brother of Rod Blagojevich about possibly raising money for the former governor.

The Sangamon County, Illinois, state's attorney is also considering whether to file perjury charges against Burris.

"I've done nothing wrong, and I have absolutely nothing to hide," Burris said in a speech to the City Club of Chicago. "You know the real Roland ... Stop the rush to judgment."

Burris told reporters earlier in the week that he informed Blagojevich's brother Robert in November that no one was willing to give to the governor and that it would be inappropriate to raise money because he was interested in being appointed to the Senate.

During his testimony under oath in Blagojevich's impeachment trial, however, Burris failed to mention any such conversations when asked about contacts with the governor's office. He later acknowledged that his testimony might be incomplete and filed an affidavit correcting it.

Burris said Wednesday that while he did not hide his desire to be appointed to the Senate, he never had a conversation about a possible Senate appointment with anyone close to Blagojevich other than the former governor's attorney.

He also insisted that nobody from Blagojevich's office contacted him to discuss a potential appointment.

"The governor's brother reached out to (me) to do fundraising," Burris conceded. "But I did not give one single dollar to the governor."

Illinois' senior senator, Dick Durbin, a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, told reporters during a congressional trip to Europe that "the Ethics Committee of the Senate is undertaking an investigation."

"Every day there are more and more revelations about contacts with Blagojevich advisors, efforts at fundraising and omissions from his list of lobbying clients," Durbin later said in a written release. "This was not the full disclosure under oath that we asked for.

"These news reports and the public statements by Roland Burris himself are troubling and raise serious questions which need to be looked at very carefully."

–CNN's Peter Hamby, Brianna Keilar, Dierdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Filed under: Roland Burris
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. shoegazer

    Is that guy trying to get a picture of something crawling out of his ear or what?

    February 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. Q

    So, if he is voted out, can we take back his Senate vote on the stimulus bill so it will be 59 for it? That's what should happen. This is a Democratic ploy to get them the votes needed to pass this waste of taxpayer money bill...

    February 19, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Luke Brown

    Senator Burris. You lied your way into office. Now, tell the truth and get out.

    You are embarrassing your state and our President.

    February 19, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. CA Indie for Obama

    Hopefully, burris will resign so Gov. Quinn can appoint a solid individual, white, black, brown, yellow or purple. who cares as long as he or she is qualified and has ethics.

    February 19, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  5. Doug, New Jersey

    "There is now a qualilfied Democratic governor in Illinois, and several qualified Democrats who can fill the senate seat."

    Yes, and there is now a pacifist leader of Al Queda too. LOL!!!

    An Atheist pope............

    Feel free to add 🙂

    February 19, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. CA Indie for Obama

    @liberals are retarded,
    notice the outrage by most all dems at this guy...

    I did not see such outrage at the many repubs scandals like mark foley, ted stevens et al...

    so maybe in your eyes we are retarded, but we know a crook when we see one, unlike conservatives

    February 19, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  7. Michelle Bell from Alabama

    I hate to say it but, if he thought he was qualified he should have waited. There was and still is so much negativity surroundingg his appointment. Even at the young age of 20, I still say he should have known better than to have accepted the appointment in the first place. Come on politicans, stop messing up the nation and the world leaving me and my generation to clean up the mess! This is to the GOP, Democrats and Independents!!!

    February 19, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. anthony

    Do people remember that the Democrats were actually trying to block Burris from taking the Senate seat, and Republicans like McCain were saying that Burris should be seated? The Democrats knew that no one appointed by Blagojevich could escape the taint of the impeached governor. I bet the Republicans knew it too, which was why they supported the appointment. Burris, if he somehow survives this, will become a prime target for the Republicans in 2010.

    February 19, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. BD

    Crooked Illinois politics move to Washington. Nothing new here!! Smile and the world will smile with you and be led of the cliff like a bunch of (Democrats) I mean Lemmings.

    February 19, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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