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. gt

    this guy needs to leave now.... he lied and cant be trusted,,,,,send him packing,,,,,,good bye

    February 19, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Angie

    his spokeman resigned. now he should resign. he is a BIG LIAR. I think he would sale his soul the political gain.

    February 19, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. obama-mama

    I don't blame him. I wouldn't want to be anywhere near Burris at this point.

    February 19, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. ron

    "i won. no more questions. thank you."

    it's working for obama, so...

    February 19, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. simplyred

    I had my doubts about Roland Burris from the very beginning. Someone who wants the senate seat so bad, he would accept it from a crook like B-Rod. You could tell he loved being in the spotlight. He practically kicked the door down to the senate room. I don't think this had anything to do with President Obama. I feel this was just one greedy, power hungry guy trying to get something for nothing. He did not earn that seat. President Obama put the money and time in running for that seat. Burris just wanted to sit down for free, with all the prestige to go along with it. He did not care what he had to do to get it, until someone probably said to him that if he had spoken to some of Blagovich people, it would probably be on tape. He just decided to wait until he had the seat before he did his little slip of the mind games.

    February 19, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Therisa

    There are many other thing to worry about in the world besides this problem. Please Americans lets move on. Lets focus on real issues to solve.

    February 19, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |

    Good call, Jason. Mr. Burris should follow suit and resign for the good of the hard-working people of Illinois.

    February 19, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. FreeNLovIt

    Okay, people, I think we are all INSANE. What are people supposed to do? Telepath? I believe it is perfectly okay to mutually agree to serve and to talk it out. America is INSANE!!! If we're serious about cleaning up the government, let's start with the last administration and drag out all individuals to testify!

    February 19, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. FreeNLovIt

    When did talking become a crime? If I was Obie,I'll start learning sign languages.

    February 19, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Obama supporter

    CNN why do you keep referring to this senate seat as Pres Obama former senate seat? Hell by now everybody knows that you can drop that part of it and refer to it as the senate seat in chicago.

    Burris needs to resign, shut up and fade away.

    February 19, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Texas

    Burris should resign and let the State of Illinois move forward.

    February 19, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Nick the Photographer

    I am glad that the Democratic leadership of this country asked him to sign an affidavit stating his role in Blago-Gate before seating him to the Senate. Seems to me they thought he just might perjure himself.

    February 19, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. 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! Clearly it would be nice to have another African American in the Senate, BUT he should be judged by the content of his charcter, not the color of his skin!

    February 19, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Scott the Independent

    Investigate, trial – jail – special election. That's how this story ends.

    February 19, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. Kenneth

    I admit that I supported the appointment of Roland Burris based on the information that was made public at the time. However, now that the truth of the phone conversations and obvious attempts to mislead the American people I too believe he should be removed from office. This is not a race issue or a party issue. This can simply be identified as an elderly man being manipulated by a corrupt system that is in dire need of a dose of reality.

    Mr. Burris should have NEVER accepted the appointment and the circus that he brought into play before and during the appointment process brings shame to our country. Especially now that we know that his appointment was based on lies. Although he may not be the first or only politician to be manipulated he certainly is the least respectable based on the intent of the lie being to acquire a senate seat.

    Corruption is rampant in the political arena and Americans should be demanding more from our representatives. Hopefully with political transparency being implemented more corruption will be brought to light. As an act of goodwill Roland Burris should resign!

    February 19, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Scott the Independent

    JD I bet you look great in green

    February 19, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. FreeNLovIt

    Burris, dont RESIGN!!! What you did happens all the time. We simply cant go on in life without talking or shaking hands.

    February 19, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Larry

    I thought the Chicago /Illinois political corruption was "cleaned up " when Obama took the gang to Washington with him.

    February 19, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    February 19, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. former republican

    Ok now its your turn Burris. Step down please your not doing your party, state, or anyone any favors by keeping up this charade!

    February 19, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Janice- Houston, TX

    Would this ding bat just go!! I am so sick of this dufus man, how in the hell can he replace Obama. This man need to leave out the same door as the Governor. He is an old crook that trying to ride is old age out in the Senate. He reminds me of an old out dated slickster.

    February 19, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Darlene in Chicago

    Mr. Burris...I have been embarrased to watch you from the moment ex-Gov Blago appointed you. That 1st press conference was a debacle – where's your buddy Bobby Rush now? Everytime I see you, you are grandstanding, tap dancing, sweating, stuttering...You should not have accepted this appointment. You have not been truthful, and are not qualified to represent Chicago, or the State of IL.

    Please, resign now!!!

    February 19, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. fella from Chicago

    Keep any talk of the Republicans out of it. Illinois is a "blue" state and has been one for decades with the exception of an occasional Republican governor, but otherwise it's "blue".

    It's time for the Democrats to clean up their own filth and stop blaming others.

    February 19, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. John

    Senator Roland, you have had your 15 minutes of fame now, just retire for the good of the Democratic Party and for the good of the Country.

    Thank you for your service but, you are a major distraction and you need to retire.

    February 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. dennis

    Hey Vic,

    He lied under oath while giving testimony. Even by liberal standards, that is breaking the law. Unless..................you question the meaning of "is".

    I LOVE The circus being back in town....................

    February 19, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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