Harry Reid may want to bar the Senate door again after a new detail emerged from the Illinois House impeachment panel yesterday. Earlier, Roland Burris had denied ever speaking to any representatives of Rod Blagojevich before December 26th. Now, however, Burris has apparently changed his story:
A potentially troublesome new detail emerged about Roland Burris’ controversial U.S. Senate appointment Thursday after a state House panel voted unanimously to recommend Gov. Blagojevich be impeached.
For the first time, Burris indicated that he asked Blagojevich’s former chief of staff and college classmate, Lon Monk, to relay his interest in the Senate seat to the governor last July or September.
“If you’re close to the governor, you know, let him know I’m certainly interested in the seat,” Burris said he told Monk.
That testimony appears to differ from an affidavit Burris submitted to the impeachment panel this week in which he stated he spoke to no “representatives” of the governor about the Senate post prior to Dec. 26.
Was Monk “close to the governor”? Close enough to get his own FBI handle in the wiretaps. Lon Monk is Lobbyist #1, and had served as Blagojevich’s chief of staff before going into the lobbying business.
Burris wants to play a little Clintonian word parsing. He now claims that Monk technically wasn’t a “representative” of Blagojevich because he no longer worked for the governor. However, Burris’ revised story makes it clear that he acted as though Monk represented the Governor, regardless of his official status. Burris told him to get his name to Blagojevich if he could in order to get the appointment.
If Monk didn’t represent the governor, why would Burris have told him that? If Burris trusted Monk to get that information to Blagojevich, then clearly Burris thought Monk still represented the governor.
Will this give Reid some extra support for keeping Burris out of the Senate? It could have done so had Reid not already begun caving to pressure from the Obama team and his own caucus to end his opposition. Still, Reid has no legal reason to keep Burris out, at least not at the moment — but any hint that Burris participated in a pay-for-play scheme to get that seat could allow Reid to refer his appointment to Rules and keep it there for a long time.