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. Gonzo

    All of you people are crazy........

    February 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. daniel cabrera

    I saw it coming, the situation at all levels is so disturbing.We do need a set of better leaders,...you know,... the type that WORKS for the people and DO NOT STEAL from the people.

    Let's keep the eyes opened , perhaps we can hire a couple of good ones, right?

    Daniel Cabrera
    Merrillville, Indiana

    February 19, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |

    Burris needs to go. As a life-long Democrat, I am ashamed of his behavior. I would rather see a die-hard Republican in that seat rather than someone who "paid to play" and has mislead the public from the beginning. He has desired that seat for so long and so intensely that he threw out all decency and ethics to have the title "Senator" before his name. He is a disgrace

    February 19, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Bankrupt in USA

    Who cares about Burris? The voters will elect the Senator of their choice in 2010. Time to focus on the real problems facing America.

    February 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. Deborah

    Burris should get back at all his Liberal Friends that turned on him by writing a Tell All book.....

    We want to know what Berry's Dirty secrets are!

    No doubt we will all be in Shock and Awe....

    And he can make a ton of money!

    Maybe there is impeachable Dirt and our Great Nation will be saved from this lying Idiot!

    February 19, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. PSL Girl

    Drip, drip, drip, dripping....Burris get ready for the deluge!

    February 19, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Brian

    Chicago + Politician = Crook
    Blago, Burris, Hmmm do we know any others?

    February 19, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. dr.mimi de la cruz




    February 19, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. gl, Pittsburgh

    Please put this clown out of office.

    February 19, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Obama supporter February 19th, 2009 12:40 pm ET
    CNN why do you keep referring to this senate seat as Pres Obama former senate seat?

    Umm, maybe because it is. What's wrong, don't want America reminded that Obama came up through the corrupt Chicago ranks? Don't worry, his own staff did an investigation and decided he wasn't involved. Yep, no problem believing that.

    February 19, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. a southern bell



    February 19, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Still waiting for that statement from the Congressional Black Caucus. They voted unanimously to seat him. You'd think they would have something to say.

    February 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Maddog

    What another DEM. in a scandal. let along the one that took over the Presidents seat. OMG! this can't be happening, not to the Party that is to save our nation from the Bush Admin.

    That's it we are done, time to ask Great Britian to forgive us and accept us back as one of it's colonies

    February 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Sara

    I loved to update myself and followed current national affairs. But I am getting so frustrated to listen to the news as I do not trust any one, I mean ANY-ONE specially from Illinois for that matter even Obama.
    I hate it.
    Roland Burris go home and partner with Rod Blagojevich.

    February 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Evelyn

    Can any politician be trusted these day and age??????

    February 19, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. KS Dem

    Blago stated he was innocent and look what happened to him....

    February 19, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Disappointed American

    "Happy Trails", Burris.

    February 19, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Lorna, NY

    That's right, throw him under the bus where he belongs!

    February 19, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. slickingdom

    Why does this even make the headlines ???

    February 19, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. shamous mc

    What a crock! or is that Crook?
    "The governor's brother reached out to (me) to do fundraising. But I did not give one single dollar to the governor."

    That's because NO ONE was willing to give you a dime in fundraising for Blago! You already tried fundraising for the gov, that's an action you nitwit. You lifted a finger to in Pay to Play putz!

    February 19, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. Tom in Wheaton, Illinois

    What Jason Erkes really meant was, "I can smell it when sombody's gonna throw you under the bus, and I don't want to be a witness". I'm pretty sure that Burris will resign before Monday.

    February 19, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Andy

    Should Burris serve out his term in the Senate and survive Senate investigation, his re-election to serve a new term will require heavy lifting on the part of the Democrats.

    February 19, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Rick CT

    I'm waiting for Al Sharpton or the original Congressman Who Turned This Into A Racial Thing to turn the fact that Burris stopped well short of telling the whole truth into a racial thing again. Or maybe said Congressman will wait until Harry Reid draws another line in the sand so that Harry Reid will once again look like the moron he is.

    Burris should have been thoroughly investigated before he was seated, but Harry completely relented with a "Did you do it?" , "No" "Well then OK" investigation.

    This is no surprise and Burris should follow the lead of his spokeman – but he won't. And ultimately the Dems will hide underd the "we've got more important things to do" umbrella.

    February 19, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Tesap:Savannah, GA

    he was dumb for accepting the position in the first place... the bad light will be cast on him forever...... can;t take the heat.............get out the Senate

    February 19, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  25. Ken

    Now if Burris would resign as well!

    It is time for Burris to pay the Piper and get out of Washington DC. I DO NOT TRUST him!

    February 19, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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