Maybe Harry Reid should have stuck to his guns. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Roland Burris failed to disclose that impeached and former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s brother solicited a $10,000 contribution just prior to Burris’ appointment to the Senate. The admission conflicts with previous sworn depositions in the case, putting Burris at risk of perjury:
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother solicited U.S. Sen. Roland Burris for up to $10,000 in campaign cash before Blagojevich named Burris to the coveted post — something Burris initially failed to disclose under oath before an Illinois House impeachment panel, records and interviews show.
Burris acknowledges being hit up for the money in a new affidavit he has sent to the head of the House committee that recommended Blagojevich be removed from office.
The affidavit is dated Feb. 5 — three weeks after Burris was sworn in to replace President Obama in the Senate.
Burris — who did not give money to the Blagojevich campaign fund in response to the previously undisclosed solicitation — provided a copy of the sworn statement to the Chicago Sun-Times Friday in response to questions about his contacts with the Blagojevich camp about fund-raising.
Three weeks after taking office in the US Senate, Burris suddenly discovered that his previous affadavit and testimony were “incomplete”. On January 5th, Burris submitted a sworn statement to the Illinois House panel investigating Blagojevich that he had no contacts at all with the now-removed governor before his appointment in late December. When he testified at the end of January, he amended that to include two other contacts with former Blagojevich aides Lon Monk and John Harris — but he never mentioned Blagojevich’s brother demanding a payment.
There is no possibility that Burris simply “forgot” about such a demand. In the first place, that’s exactly what the House was investigating, a pay-for-play arrangement for the open Senate seat. In fact, one has to question why Burris himself didn’t report such a blatantly corrupt demand to state or federal authorities. He never paid the money, but the demand itself is explicitly illegal, and as a state lawmaker Burris had a higher responsibility than most to report the attempt.
This puts the onus back on Harry Reid and the Senate. Burris has arguably committed perjury and failed to report corruption. Will they wait until he gets charged in the case, or act to remove him and allow new Governor Pat Quinn to appoint someone much less problematic to replace him? If Reid does nothing and allows Burris to occupy the seat, Republicans will have a brand-new case to add to the Democratic “culture of corruption” that now includes William Jefferson, Chris Dodd, and Charlie Rangel for the midterm elections.