February 19th, 2009
11:05 AM ET
5 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. Dutch/Hampton Roads, VA

    I guess he feels the political whirlwind coming. Smart move!

    February 19, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. america first

    WHEN YOUR SO CALLED FRIENDS TURN THEIR BACK ON YOU IT'S TIME TO RESIGN. GO WRITE A BOOK LIKE ALL THE REST DO.

    February 19, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. Tulsa L

    I'm a democrat, but this man has to go.......so maybe he didn't give any money to the Gov. brother, he still should have made this know up front before being setted in the Senate..........

    February 19, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    If he's "you-know-what and his mouth is open, he's lying!

    February 19, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. vic

    The only rvelant question is: did Burris break the law? If not then this mess should end.
    I'm beginning to think this is just another republican ploy to try and get another republican senator in washington.
    So, did Burris break the law???

    February 19, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Kurt C.

    I thought we got rid of the Culture of Corruption. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. We got fooled again.

    February 19, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Bob the Observer

    No, no, no! Mr. Burris, it's YOU the public wants to resign, not your spokesman. Try again; maybe this time you'll get it right. There is now a qualilfied Democratic governor in Illinois, and several qualified Democrats who can fill the senate seat.

    You can keep your spokesman. Maybe he can say "guilty" for you when the judge asks how you want to plead.

    February 19, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Maggie

    Bye bye R Burris

    February 19, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. BW

    The same liberals that were screaming "racism", and "terrible Republicans trying to find something bad about Burris that doesn't exist" are now lined up to slaughter this guy. Sure don't want this going any further up the ladder, do you?

    February 19, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. red

    ad a democrat i dont like the burris pick at all..... couldnt they find someone younger....................................

    my god!!!!!

    February 19, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Arlene Illinois

    This man Roland is EM-Burris ing the good people of Illinois.

    February 19, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Ellie

    Rolland Burris should have NEVER accepted the nomination from the former Illinois Governor. Burris KNEW full well he wasn't being truthful in his role of helping Rod Blagojevich. I'm amazed this man still believes he didn't do anything wrong, that's EXACTLY what Rod Blagojevich said over and over.

    I'm sure his attorney will soon be resigning as well. It's only a matter of time. When more Democrats and Republicans start demanding his resignation and everyone else starts abandoning him, Rolland Burris is going be hung out to dry in the wind like his buddy, the EX-governor.

    I'm amazed that these politicians fail to WAKE UP to the reality that Americans are getting SICK and TIRED of getting screwed by their lies and greediness, while we're working our butts off just to make ends meet!

    Enough is Enough. We need to start sending a clear message, if you screw with the TAXPAYERS, we're going to give you the BOOT!!

    February 19, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Ezequiel Hernandez

    NOW WE WAIT FOR BURRIS TO RESIGN! HE NEEDS TO GO NOW>..this is that i supported him being appointed, but he has brought a dark cloud on this seat he needs to go!

    February 19, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. George the Democrat Obama fanatic.

    When is Burris gonna resign?

    February 19, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. Jon in CA

    When you see rats jumping from a ship you know the ship is sinking and is doomed.

    You just can't trust a politician from Chicago.

    February 19, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. JD

    I can't believe it! A corrupt democratic governor of Illinois appointed a corrupt democrat as Senator? What are the odds? Next question...how long will this take to trickle up to B.O.?

    February 19, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Kevin, TN

    Burris is a clown, let's move on America.

    February 19, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. American

    Burris looks like a crook to me.

    February 19, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. MK

    Will someone please tell this guy which way the political winds are blowing? Blago was defiant till the end and look what happened to him. Burris is just following in his footsteps. Besides, hanging on to a tainted senate seat should be the least of his worries. Perjury and jail time is what he need to focus on. Lawyers make a mockery of "truth telling". Just look at what Clinton did with the Lewinski affair.

    February 19, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Baze

    This story gets increasingly outrageous

    February 19, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Terry in NY

    And they wonder why people doubt them!

    February 19, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Michelle Bell from Alabama

    I happen to be a democrat and an African American. It seemed to me that ever since this whole seat filling process began, there was a cloud over the governor. If I were Burris, I would have politely declined the offer. Now all the mess is coming out and he is acting as if he is the victim. He needs to be honest (which is hard for politicans) and step down. Democrats do not need a tainted Senator.

    February 19, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  23. Amazed

    Oh, come on you Repubiots. This likely has nothing to do with Obama. I'm sure the Illinois Governor and Senator Burris are capable of misbehavior independent of the President. But nobody who is blogging all this vitriol is in posession of any facts, so it's really showing your brainlessness to be mouthing your hatred and racism here. Let the facts come out first, or did you forget that this is how people with actual brains operate?

    February 19, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Michelle Bell from Alabama

    I happen to be a democrat and an African American. It seemed to me that ever since this whole seat filling process began, there was a cloud over the governor. If I were Burris, I would have politely declined the offer. Now all the mess is coming out and he is acting as if he is the victim. He needs to be honest (which is hard for politicans) and resign. Democrats do not need a tainted Senate seat!

    February 19, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Franky

    Ohh Mr. Burris, Mr. Burris...we don't condone you and we don't hate you, we ain't going that far and quite honestly, we don't know any facts yet whether you did anything wrong but please Mr. Burris, you can lie to the government and to our people, but not us, we'll kill you...we are not the American people, do the right thing. We are tired being the laughing stock and we don't mind, we don't BUT when they bring up our people and question our neighbors and families, then we have to stand up for out state. This is our game, when mistakes are made, you will get smashed, even in the underworld and trust me, we are far more bogus than your local party but we will say there are rules. And maybe you can learn something from us...

    1) NO ONE, I mean, NO ONE is bigger than our country, that's our first rule. Just because you said something different compare to another state does not mean you are right. Because if you are, people will come after you...maybe that's a rule our government should learn and adapt. It works for us...

    February 19, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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