February 16th, 2009
12:43 PM ET
13 years ago

Burris says his statements were consistent

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/16/art.burris.gi.jpg caption="Burris says his statements have been consistent."]CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Illinois Sen. Roland Burris reiterated Monday that his sworn testimony regarding his contacts with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was not inconsistent with what he later said in an affidavit about them.

The Democratic senator's comments come a day after Illinois Republican leaders called for a perjury investigation into whether Burris deceived the public last month when he failed to tell state lawmakers that former Gov. Blagojevich's brother solicited him for campaign cash at the same time that the governor himself was considering whether to appoint him to fill the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

Earlier: Republicans want perjury probe

"We said in our testimony before the impeachment committee, my lawyer stated, that we will have to file additional information in our report because there were some questions asked where we had to get sufficient information for the committee," Burris told reporters outside Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side prior to leaving for a five-day statewide "listening tour" of his new constituents.

"We also stated that we might be incomplete in our report," he said.

He said he decided, upon receiving the court transcript, to file a separate affidavit showing whom he talked to and what was said. But, he added, "There was no change in any of our testimony. We followed up as we promised the impeachment committee. We've done everything here that we said we were going to do."

Any suggestion to the contrary, he said, "is absolutely, positively not true. It was done because we promised the committee that we would supplement information in case we missed anything."

Burris has said that Rob Blagojevich asked him to contribute or help raise money for his brother, the governor, before Burris was named a U.S. senator on December 30, but that he did not do so.

"I made clear to him I would not contribute because it would be inappropriate because I had expressed my interest in the Senate seat," he told reporters on Sunday. "I did not donate one single dollar."

Burris has come under fire for not mentioning the conversations during his January 8 testimony before the Illinois House impeachment panel that was investigating the governor. He said Sunday that he had addressed them in an affidavit filed this month.

The state House voted overwhelmingly to impeach the governor after he was arrested on federal corruption charges in December.

Meanwhile, in Washington, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is aware of the affidavit and is also looking into the issue, according to his spokesman, Jim Manley.

"Clearly it would have been better if Senator Burris had provided this information when he first testified," Manley said Sunday. "Senator Reid is reviewing the affidavit and will await any action by Illinois legislative leaders after they review the matter."

Burris' attorney, Tim Wright, joined him at Sunday's news conference. He said the affidavit was submitted after they reviewed the transcripts from Burris' testimony and realized "there was also some additional information we could have offered."

In the affidavit, Burris said the governor's brother called him three times - once in October 2008 and twice shortly after the November elections - to "seek my assistance in fund-raising for Governor Blagojevich."

But Burris said in one of the conversations, he believes the last one, "I mentioned the Senate seat in the context of saying that I could not contribute to Governor Blagojevich because it could be viewed as an attempt to curry favor with him regarding his decision to appoint a successor to President Obama."

The affidavit does not directly state that Rob Blagojevich solicited funds or give a dollar amount. However, Burris spokesman Jason Erkes told CNN Saturday that the governor's brother asked Burris to contribute or help raise up to $10,000 for Blagojevich.

Burris said he did not raise or donate any funds for the governor after a June fundraiser.

Asked by the impeachment panel with whom he had talked among Blagojevich's associates about his desire for the Senate seat, Burris replied he had spoken with Blagojevich's former chief of staff, Lon Monk. On Sunday, he said he had not mentioned Rob Blagojevich because the questioning then "went in a different direction."

Burris' appointment by Blagojevich was hotly disputed, as prosecutors alleged Blagojevich attempted to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder. He was ousted from office last month by Illinois lawmakers.

Attempts by CNN to contact Rob Blagojevich regarding the allegations, first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, were unsuccessful.

Rob Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, told the Sun-Times that Blagojevich had spoken with Burris about a fund-raiser, but "didn't know (Burris) was in the running for the U.S. Senate seat."

Filed under: Roland Burris
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Patty in the CA mountains

    This is way funny. Turns out Reid was right to not want to seat this guy....but the Republicans were very vocal about how out of line Reid was in his opinion. Now, the republicans want Burris to resign so they can have a special election and most likely win the seat. Republicans are SO predictable.

    February 16, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    IF you are aware of a crime and do not divulge that information to the authorities, does that in some way make U an accessory?
    I'm thinking for tag s/he should be brought up on charges under the wonderful Patriot Act that President Bush left us with. After all, s/he knows of some crime that President Obama has committed but refuses to tell the FBI or Police. Coward.

    February 16, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. Simmy

    Rep. Durkin and the others are trying to take Burris' seat. They should be ashames of themselves. They are playing games, and I for one, am sick of them. I will support any Dem. to defeat them. Leave Burris alone, quacks.

    February 16, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Listening to America

    Burris is ridiculous- he was named by Blago so I'm not surprised that he should backtrack on his statements now that he is a senator. This was a stink trap that everyone should have smelled a mile away.

    Oh and about Bush 43, he may not have been the absolute worst president, but he sure did come close- closer than this list names him.

    I would put him in the top 3 of the worst for sure.

    February 16, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. bill

    This is coming from a man who left politics in his prime because he refused to prosecute Senator Carol Mosley Braun for tax evasion.

    1. She is his color.

    2. She is in the same party.

    This is why he should not be a senator and why Burris cannot be trusted.

    February 16, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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