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Burris Claims No "Inconsistent Statements"

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Feb 15, 2009 11:45PM

At a press conference on Sunday, Sen. Roland Burris told reporters he had no inappropriate contact with regards to his Senate seat with any friends or supporters of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. “I’ve always conducted myself with honor and integrity,” Burris said. “I did not donate one single dollar, nor did I raise any money, nor promise any favors of any kind to the governor.”

The press conference was held in response to calls from Republican leaders for a perjury investigation of Burris after he submitted a supplemental affidavit on Feb. 5 that revealed Burris had contact with several members of the ex-governor’s inner circle, including his brother Rob Blagojevich.

Burris now admits he spoke with the former governor’s brother three times on the telephone about requests for campaign contributions to the then-governor - which Burris says he immediately declined. While testifying under oath on Jan. 8, the junior senator from Illinois mentioned only his conversation with former Blago chief of staff, Lon Monk, when asked about his contacts with six key Blago allies.

When asked today by members of the press why he did not tell the questioning representative that he had contact with others besides Monk, Burris replied: “As a witness on the stand I was answering questions that were asked of me. The answer to all of those names [on the list] was yes. If we had come back I would have answered happily [questions about the other individuals].”

Burris claims Rep. Jim Durkin lead the questioning in another direction and he did not have the opportunity to speak about his other contacts. Burris’ attorney, Tim Wright, said he was prompted to fill in the missing information after he reviewed the transcript of the hearing.

Senior legal analyst for CNN, Jeffrey Toobin, said it was likely the whole ordeal would cause more political than legal problems for the senator. Toobin said downplaying the number of contacts Burris had in the ex-governor’s office about his seat would likely not warrant criminal prosecution. Perjury accusations won’t hold up on vague or misleading statements, he said - only false statements are grounds for prosecution. But what effect this might have on his potential run for election in 2010, is questionable, he said.

Post by Kalyn Belsha