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Blago Asked Burris For Contribution

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Feb 14, 2009 5:10PM

In an announcement that probably surprises no one, new U.S. Senator Roland Burris has admitted that then-Governor Rod Blagojevich's brother hit him up for a $10,000 donation to Blago's campaign fund. Burris insists that the request came before his controversial Senate appointment and that he didn't make the contribution. Still, it was an instance that Burris apparently forgot to mention when he was questioned - under oath - by a state house committee investigating the impeachment of the then-governor.

Burris makes the new admission in an affidavit dated February 5 that he sent to the head of that state house committee. Burris also submitted a copy of the affidavit to the Sun-Times in response to their questioning him on his contact with Blagojevich. Burris claims that upon rereading his testimony in front of the committee, he felt the information was incomplete, so he sent the affidavit. Said the Senator, "There were several facts that I was not given the opportunity to make during my testimony. I voluntarily submitted an affidavit so everything was transparent."

Per the Sun-Times:

In October and again in November, Burris spoke with Robert Blagojevich, who initially asked him to host a fund-raiser. Burris said he'd get back to him after the election, sources with knowledge of the conversations said. The two later talked again, and Burris again was asked for campaign cash.

Burris said he refused to contribute and "made it unequivocally clear ... that it would be inappropriate and pose a major conflict because I was interested in the Senate vacancy."

A source with knowledge of the exchange said there was some discussion about Burris possibly getting others to give or raise money on his behalf. Not so, according to Burris: "I did not donate or help raise a single dollar for the governor from those conversations and would never consider making a donation through a third party."

Taking the shady dealings one step further, during his testimony, Burris said he had only talked to one person in the Blagojevich camp about the then-vacant U.S. Senate seat, but the paperwork he provided the Sun-Times lists five. Said Rep. James Durkin (R-Western Springs), who asked Burris about the contacts at the hearing, "I'm very surprised he didn't make these disclosures. I don't know if Mr. Burris was purposely being evasive during the committee or had selected memory issues." Burris had previously admitted to talking to Len Monk, but the new affidavit also lists John Harris, Doug Scofield and John Wyma.

State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said, "If it turns out this was some sort of attempt to avoid this coming out as part of the appointment process, then he doesn't deserve to be senator. I think the whole thing stinks to high heaven." She added that she thinks it will greatly hurt Burris' re-election bid in 2010, though given Burris' current financial state, that may be moot. Here's hoping he gets an earful about these shenanigans when he heads out on a "listening tour" of smaller cities across the state.