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. Mac

    If this guy cares at all about the image of his party, he'll resign now. If he plans to run for reelection in 2010, he's D.O.A. Give it up Burris, you're over your head.

    February 19, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. MICK in MESA

    Get the message Burris? if not, here it is in a nutshell – Resign!
    Just say "Buy Buy" already.
    You're an embarassment to the US Senate (and that's REALLY hard to do), the state of IL and all men of good will who put honest public service over personal political accomplishment etchings on their grave stones...

    February 19, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. So what

    The man is a cheat and a liar. He needs to go, but then again 90 % of the people there are his own kind. So I say let him stay a little longer so when the American public goes to vote again, they will remember to vote out every last one of these guys and gals.

    Now if the man really wants to prove he's there for a good reason, he can start with the ultimate stimulas package. Set all senator and congressman's salaries to $1 per year for the next 2 terms. We taxpayers not only save but the next person that wants to run is going there for the cause not the cash.

    February 19, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Jim

    It's amazing all the gurd that is boiling up from the Chicago gutters. And people are expected to believe Obama is guiltless in all this. Get real. If you are a Chicago politician, you know what is going on and he certainly came from this group.

    February 19, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. Spirit of America

    Since when, in the 21st century, has a US Senate seat been reserved for a particular race or gender? Is that any worse than buying and selling a US Senate seat?

    February 19, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. steve Loudon, TN

    when you lie under oath, that is perjury, VIC. If you fail to tell the whole truth without reservation, EVEN though you may not have been asked the exact question, that is intent to perjure. This clown is on tape and is dirty just like the rest of the Messiah's clownery. People should surround his house and demand his resignation. What criminals the people keep allowing into office. Shameful of the public's lack of political awareness. Even Durbin wants this guy gone, but the black eye (no pun intended) will be a big one.

    February 19, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. Jerry D.

    Burris yes you have done someting wrong. You open your mouth. Mr. Burris you think you are above and beyond the premise of being on the wrong side of the fence. The impeached man was bad and association brings on some sort of connection. Now what you should have done was tried to clear up the mess in IL before you went tracing to Washington with your loud mouth. You see what goes around comes around and you are tagged my man.

    February 19, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. Eileen

    Nothing good ever comes out of Ill. We have a joke for a pres. and a clown for his replacement.

    February 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. Justin

    to vic:

    Yes, purgery is illegal.

    February 19, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Ken in NC

    A spokesman for Illinois Sen. Roland Burris resigned Thursday because he could not tell the lies Burris needed told so now Burris must himself, tell these lies. This man is so full of himself it is funny. The only people to benefit from his fiasco in the Senate will be the nations comics. This is providing them with comedy fodder for the next 6 months and Burris is so stupid he doesn't realize how much he is damaging the state and politicians in the eyes of the people of the state and of the nation.

    February 19, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Gracie

    It NEVER seems to amaze me that every time something about Rolland Burris comes out, Republicans consistently do the same thing which is, blame President Obama for it. HA! HA! Do you want to blame President Obama for the weather too? I mean Jesus, talk about a bunch of juveniles.

    Governor Blagojevich appointed this fool and NOW we understand WHY. Rolland Burris was stupid enough to ACCEPT the seat knowing full well his LIES and DECEIT would come back and bite him in the butt!!



    February 19, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Jerry D.

    Yes the wrong thing you have done was open your mouth. You think you are all that and a bag of chips. Man you are no better than the next senator who was a friend with the impeached man. You can't answer questions correctly so please take it lighty open your mouth again and you will be with your friend. Stop talking and let by gones be by gones. You can't win this without a lucky charm.

    February 19, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. yuri

    And that's a death-knell, seemingly, for the present political life of Burris. We fail to comprehend what was going thru Burris' mind, when he started muttering many of the recent statements. Indeed, he may have irked many politicians who are clamoring for his ouster and it is only a matter of time before he is coerced to step down.

    February 19, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Tony

    sad day to be a democrat

    February 19, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. Ted

    I am very tired of these corrupt lying politicians in my state. Burris needs to resign. Our new Gov Pat Quinn needs to vet a good replacement and get that person to Washington DC now. We need to get this whole Blago baloney behind us.

    February 19, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. Melissa

    Funny. Even his own spokesman thinks he's crooked.

    February 19, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Maggie from Virginia

    Resign already!

    February 19, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. Survivor

    I think that Burris is not so much immoral as not so bright! He may have had good cognitive reasoning in the past but it is apparant that he is literally stumbling around now. He will not be a viable candidate in 2 years.....I'm sure everyone is thinking of that now....the new Gov of the state of ILL should have been the one to appoint the new Senator – but no one could wait and our little friend "rob" robbed everyone in the state of ILL that representation!

    February 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. yummy

    Why should Mr. Burris resign before PB0 resigns. Are there really fundamental differences between the two? After all, PB0 along with Rahm helped electing Blago in the first place. Besides, Blago asked PB0's representative for the same thing.

    February 19, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. pete

    Just replace him, as the show must go on!

    February 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Jackie in Dallas

    Geez, guys, what happened to innocent until proven guilty? OK, what has been made public looks bad for Burris, I agree.

    Kurt C. I repeat my previous comment...I see you all the time on these blogs, and all you have to say is about crooked politicians from Chicago and cronyism. YOU might have gotten fooled AGAIN, but I haven't been fooled at all. I voted against Bush both times, and for Obama. I think the President is doing pretty darn good under the circumstances!

    Vic, you are correct, the only relevant question is did he break a law. From what I can see, his comments during the impeachment of Blagojevich border on perjury, but he did say he had further information and filed an addendum to his testimony later. As to whether his communications with Blagojevich's brother were improper, unless they are on wiretaps, we'll never truly know. It is ridulous to think that Burris and Blagojevich's staff didn't speak at all while he was being considered for appointment, the real question is whether the communication contained anything improper.

    February 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. R in Maine

    Either bring charges or stop wasting our time. If you just want to complain about it, Illinois is the right place for you.

    February 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Simmy

    The whole country will have to be dissolved before he resigns. He will have to be thrown out. He should fight to the end. With Franken about to come on board, Republicans want to whittle down the Dems' lead. If Burris leaves and they gain another Seat, they will still be losers, because they have lost their credibility.

    February 19, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. chuck

    This exit by a spokesperson, after the latest news of Burris being interviewed by Blago's brother has a suspicious feel to it. Did the kitchen get too hot? I am very suprised to see that the liberal Houston Chronicle called for Burris' resignation today. I am glad to see that, especially after many Democrats in the Illinois Congress handled him with kid gloves during the initial investigation of his appointment. Once the U.S. senate found out he was black, they put the kid gloves on also. The people with the most egg on their faces are the black congressional leaders who greased the entry with all the lube they could muster.

    February 19, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. jim Scheinle, Santa Fe, NM

    Burris is a sad and disgraceful figure, trying to exploit his blackness to
    achieve a senatorship in complicity with Blogojevich.

    And equally disgraceful was the willingness of the "coward" Democratic leadeship to submit to this blackmail, which, Mister VIC,
    will be responsible of the consequent republican Senator in 2010.

    February 19, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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