When a Senator keeps changing his story, that’s normal. Unless it is perjury….
February 15, 2009
U.S. Sen. Roland Burris has changed his story again about what happened before ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed him to the Senate, and state Republican leaders said Saturday that they want an investigation into whether he perjured himself.
Burris gradually has acknowledged deeper contacts with Blagojevich allies after initially portraying himself as a surprise pick for the seat the former governor is accused of trying to sell. But Illinois House Republican leaders said they wonder whether Burris purposely deceived the public while under oath last month by not telling a House impeachment panel that Blagojevich’s brother asked for fundraising help before the disgraced ex-governor appointed him.
State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said he would ask the now-dormant impeachment committee to refer the matter to Sangamon County State’s Atty. John Schmidt, a Republican, after learning about the revelations by Burris, a Democrat.
Burris acknowledged the discussions with the governor’s brother, Robert, in an affidavit the senator quietly filed Feb. 5 with the head of the committee. Burris said Robert Blagojevich called him three times seeking his fundraising assistance. In addition, Burris said he spoke with three other close associates of the governor and a labor leader with ties to the Blagojevich administration about being appointed to the Senate. Burris previously acknowledged only having spoken to one such friend.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate required that Burris testify fully and truthfully to the House impeachment committee in Springfield before agreeing to seat him. Many said Burris was tainted because he was Blagojevich’s pick after the governor was arrested and charged with corruption, including trying to sell that Senate seat for political or personal gain. Burris said he filed the recent affidavit after reading the transcripts of his sworn testimony and realizing his answers were incomplete.
Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) said the affidavit suggests Burris wants to be “very forthcoming.” She said the committee may reconvene soon to discuss a variety of follow-up matters.
The new affidavit—filed only after he was sworn in Jan. 15—could damage Burris’ credibility because it’s his third account of what happened behind the scenes preceding Blagojevich’s decision to pick him as President Barack Obama‘s Senate replacement.
Burris initially filed a Jan. 5 affidavit under oath to the special House panel saying his first contact was a Dec. 26 meeting with Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam Jr., who asked whether Burris was interested in filling the vacancy. Previously, “there was not any contact between myself or any of my representatives with Governor Blagojevich or any of his representatives regarding my appointment to the United States Senate,” Burris said.
Under questioning Jan. 8, however, Durkin specifically asked Burris whether he spoke with Blagojevich’s brother as well as several other close Blagojevich associates, including chief of staff John Harris and advisers Doug Scofield, John Wyma and Lon Monk, about his interest in the Senate seat.