By my count, Burris now has four different versions of his contacts with Rod Blagojevich, and this one will embarrass Democrats the most. Over the weekend, Burris strongly implied that he refused to raise money for Rod Blagojevich in exchange for an appointment to fill Barack Obama’s empty Senate seat. Today, he admits that he agreed to Robert Blagojevich’s demand:
U.S. Sen. Roland Burris has acknowledged he sought to raise campaign funds for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich at the request of the governor’s brother at the same time he was making a pitch to be appointed to the Senate seat previously held by President Barack Obama.
Burris’ latest comments in Peoria Monday night were the first time he has publicly said he was actively trying to raise money for Blagojevich. Previously Burris has left the impression that he always balked at the issue of raising money for the governor because of his interest in the Senate appointment.
In comments to reporters after appearing at a Democratic dinner, the senator several times contradicted his latest under-oath affidavit that he quietly filed with the Illinois House impeachment panel earlier this month. That affidavit was itself an attempt to clean up his live, sworn testimony to the panel Jan. 8, when he omitted his contacts with several Blagojevich insiders.
So Burris has gone from “no contacts”, to “talking with friends”, to speaking to Blagojevich’s brother but refusing his pay-for-play demand, all the way to playing along with Blago on his “f*****g valuable thing.” What exactly did Burris say?
“So some time shortly after Obama was elected, the brother called,” Burris said last night of Robert Blagojevich. “And now in the meantime, I’d talked to some people about trying to see if we could put a fund-raiser on. Nobody was—they said we aren’t giving money to the governor. And I said, ‘OK, you know, I can’t tell them what to do with their money.’”
“So when the (governor’s) brother called me back, I said, ‘Well, look Rob…I can’t raise any money from my friends. I said, maybe my partner and I, you can talk this over and see, could we go to some other people that we might be able to talk to that would help us out if we give–because we give a fundraiser in the law office, nobody going to show up. We’ll probably have a thousand dollars for you or something to that effect.’
This came at the same time that Burris was pestering Blagojevich aides for consideration for the appointment. That may not be illegal, but it certainly appears unethical — and it certainly destroys the testimony that Burris gave the state legislature. Not only did he fail to discuss the demands from Robert Blagojevich, he also failed to mention that he agreed to them.
Keep the popcorn coming, because I doubt that we’ve heard the final version of this story from Burris.