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Legal Fees Put Burris $400,000 in the Hole

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Feb 9, 2009 3:40PM

2009_02_09_burris.jpg Sen. Roland Burris has had his hands full lately - working on the stimulus package and lobbying for Illinois funds - but according to an interview with WBEZ, the recently sworn-in senator has something else on his mind too: paying off debts. In an interview with Burris on Friday, WBEZ’s Richard Steele asked the junior senator from Illinois if he had decided to run in the 2010 election, noting that according to the Federal Election Commission, Burris signed a statement of candidacy on Jan. 2. “No that means I am in debt,” Burris responded. “I have legal bills, to the tune of $400,000.”

Burris said hiring “top lawyers to take on that fight” for his senate seat in addition to the out-of-pocket staff expenses he paid prior to his official swearing-in have left him with no other option. “I have to try to recoup those funds, because I am not a wealthy person,” Burris said.

Illinois campaign finance law generally allows candidates to use funds to pay legal fees if they are in connection with their official duties in office, according to one campaign finance expert’s interview with the AM Law Daily.

As for a 2010 campaign? “We’ll make that decision shortly,” the senator said.

Post by Kalyn Belsha
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite