Burris promises fundraiser he'll 'do something'

May 26, 2009 8:19:15 PM PDT
Sen. Roland Burris promised to "personally do something" for Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund while pressing the then-governor's brother for appointment to the Senate, a transcript of a wiretapped conversation showed Tuesday.The contents of an FBI wiretap of Roland Burris have been made public. The transcript of the call shows that the man who was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Rod Blagojevich promised to "personally do something" to help the Blagojevich campaign fund.

Burris at one point promised a check, but his lawyer says it was never delivered.

The transcripts are from a phone conversation in November that Roland Burris had with then Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother Rob. The call was recorded as part of the FBI investigation of the Blagojevich administration. Both the governor and his brother have since been indicted. Roland Burris is under investigation by the Senate ethics committee and the Sangamon County state's attorney. But he remains in the Senate.

Shortly after his appointment by then Gov. Blagojevich, Roland Burris appeared before the Illinois House committee that would later vote to impeach the governor. They wanted to know what, if anything, Burris promised in exchange for the appointment. He adamantly denied making any deal at that time.

But a government wiretap shows Burris discussed the issue extensively with the governor's brother and chief fundraiser Rob during at least one call.

In that call, Burris says, "And I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment."

Rob Blagojevich says, "I hear ya. No, I hear ya."

Burris says, "And if I do that I guarantee you that, that will get out and people said oh, Burris is doing a fundraiser and then rod and I both gonna catch hell. And if I do get appointed that means I bought it."

But later Burris says, "I know I could give him a check." Rob says, "yeah."

Burris reiterates, "myself." Then says, "and my law partner, we were gonna try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright." Rob says, "mm hmm." And Burris says, "okay 'cause Tim is not looking for an appointment okay."

Wright supports the release of the transcripts, saying he believes they vindicate senator Burris.

" We don't have anything to hide. The senator has been consistent from day one about what was said to Rod Blagojevich and that there was never any pay to play," said Timothy Wright, Burris attorney.

The transcript later quotes Burris telling Rob Blagojevich, "And God knows number one, I wanna help Rod. Number two, I also wanna, you know, hope i get a consideration to get that appointment."

Rob later says, "please keep in mind and you know if you guys can just write checks that'd be fine, if we find a way for you to tie in." Burris says, "okay, okay, well we, I will personally do something."

"Okay," Rob says. "Alright Roland." And Burris says, "It'll be done before the 15th of December."

Tim Wright says Burris never wrote a check because he decided it was wrong. But to Illinois House ethics panel member Jim Durkin that makes no difference.

"The more I look at it, it looks like he perjured himself before the Illinois House of Representatives and withheld important information," said Rep. Jim Durkin, (R) Western Springs.

Durkin says the perjury investigation could potentially lead to third degree felony charges against Burris. Burris' attorney says he believes the transcripts should help vindicate Burris in all the investigations.


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