Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 18, 2009

'HE'S IN DEEP SH*T'.... Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) is probably still getting settled in as a new U.S. Senator. He was, after all, sworn in only 34 days ago. But before Burris finishes unpacking, it'd be best if he didn't get too comfortable in his new job.

In the latest in a series of shifting accounts of his conduct, Sen. Roland W. Burris (D-Ill.) told reporters that he tried to raise money for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich at the same time he was asking Blagojevich to appoint him to the Senate.

Burris said he contacted "some people" about holding a fundraiser at the request of Blagojevich's brother, Robert, only to learn that no one was willing to help the governor. He said he later changed his mind, raised no money and contributed none.

The account to reporters in Peoria, Ill., was Burris's fifth version of his contacts with close associates of Blagojevich and the first time he acknowledged trying to raise money for the former governor, who was arrested and forced from office on corruption charges.... Burris, who has said he spoke with Blagojevich only once, when the governor offered him the job on Dec. 28, has given an evolving series of accounts of his contacts with the former governor's inner circle.

In general, "fifth version" and "evolving series of accounts" are phrases controversial politicians should try to avoid.

As of yesterday afternoon, Burris is under investigation by a state's attorney's office in Illinois and the Senate Ethics Committee. Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn (D) has said publicly that Burris owes voters an explanation.

The Chicago Tribune has called for Burris' resignation. So has the Washington Post. Expulsion seems unlikely, but it's on the table.

George Stephanopoulos noted that Burris is poised to face some intense pressure from every corner, and quoted one Democratic source saying, "He's in deep sh*t."

I should note, no one has accused Burris of corruption, per se. The problem here is that he wanted the Senate seat, and was apparently afraid if he disclosed his contacts with Blagojevich's office and attempts to raise money for him, Burris would be tainted by the impeached governor's scandal. The senator seems to have decided, then, to hide relevant details, even when asked about contacts under oath.

This won't end well for him.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

Life just gets better for Illinois residents, doesn't it

Posted by: Rebw on February 18, 2009 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

Can we find out who and how many lawmakers went on trips to Antigua, paid for by Stanford, especially when the senate were debating fraud in the investment business?

Posted by: JS on February 18, 2009 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

In the case of the evolving series of accounts, Burris is pleading the fifth version rather than the fifth amendment.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on February 18, 2009 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

It's oddly amusing that after the bumbling efforts to block Burris from the Senate, he could end up removing himself.

Posted by: JoeW on February 18, 2009 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

No, it won't end well for Burris.

Let's just hope it ends soon.

These little scandals are tedious--like warts that keep coming back.

h

Posted by: h on February 18, 2009 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK


Burris wanted the seat so badly...he seems fairly awful and transparently ambitious to me. The stance he took on the death penalty- that post-trial exculpatory evidence doesn't matter, even in a capital case- was obviously pandering. To me, that is the sort of garbage I have no tolerance for. It reminds me of Clinton racing south for that retarded man's execution in 1992.
When Burris goes, good riddance. He still has that ridiculous gravestone; I hope he hasn't added much to it recently.

Posted by: conduplex on February 18, 2009 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

It's pretty amazing how anything Blogo gets wall-to-wall coverage, but there is pretty much a blackout on MSM coverage of Franken/Coleman. (Yeah, NYT had a piece yesterday, but it was a pretty bland he said/she said piece.)

Maybe it is because it is the Republican who is acting like an ass there.

Posted by: esaud on February 18, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Rob Blagojevich's attorney has acknowledged that the feds likely have at least one of those conversations on tape - Chicago Tribune link

If true, you might think Fitzgerald would have shared this with the Illinois legislature, wouldn't you? After all, they said the reason they released all those "bleeping" transcripts was to prevent precisely this kind of appointment. I think Fitzgerald has some answers due at this point.

Posted by: Danp on February 18, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Off topic, but great oped by Thomas Frank today:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123491659161904365.html

Posted by: TR on February 18, 2009 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

The Blagojevich Big Rule of Politics

Anything born of shit has a good chance of being shit.

Posted by: koreyel on February 18, 2009 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Is there something in the water in Illinois? What a bunch of loons. You had to figure anyone who was willing to accept an appointment from Blago must have a screw loose.

Posted by: rusty59 on February 18, 2009 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Is there something in the water in Illinois?

That's kind of what I've been wondering. Thirty-four days in office and already under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee? That's got to be some sort of record!

Posted by: Michigoose on February 18, 2009 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, so let's start taking bets: 1.) How soon does Burris step aside, and 2.) Who does Quinn pick to replace him?

Posted by: The Caped Composer on February 18, 2009 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

> The problem here is that he wanted the Senate seat, and was apparently
> afraid if he disclosed his contacts with Blagojevich's office and
> attempts to raise money for him, Burris would be tainted by the impeached
> governor's scandal.

And, it turns out, that fear was well-founded.

But then, I cannot imagine anyone accepting Blago's appointment at that point anyway, much less angling for it.

Posted by: Andy on February 18, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Fortunately, the Republicans have established ...

that lying to Congress is not a crime.

Oh, wait a minute - that only applies to Republicans.

Posted by: Zandru on February 18, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

If true, you might think Fitzgerald would have shared this with the Illinois legislature, wouldn't you? -Danp

I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again. I haven't seen anything from Fitzgerald that should give us confidence in his abilities, let alone the liberal love affair he's engendered. I think he's a hack.

1.) How soon does Burris step aside... -The Caped Composer

Burris and Rod have, at their core, one thing in common: naked ambition. Burris will not step aside any more than Blagojevich did. He would have to be removed from office. Should that happen, honestly, I have no idea who Quinn would appoint. It's possible he'd try to have a special election, though I fear the state can ill afford that now.

Posted by: doubtful on February 18, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

"... no one has accused Burris of corruption, per se..."

Well, why not? Blago is under indictment for trying to get potential senate replacements to contribute or raise money for him in exchange for the appointment. That appears to be exactly what Burris was doing. Being unsuccessful at it doesn't clear him.

Posted by: TRNC on February 18, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think there will be a special election, though Illinois Repubs will quite understandably push for one, as we would in their place. I think Quinn will make a new appointment after the Senate expels Burris--who I agree will never resign.

Posted by: shortstop on February 18, 2009 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

" The stance he took on the death penalty- that post-trial exculpatory evidence doesn't matter, even in a capital case- was obviously pandering."

This seems like a particularly outrageous, though probably politically popular, stance to take in Illinois given its recent history with the death penalty. Of course, it makes him a good fit for Blagojevich who tried to reverse some of the previous, Republican, governor's mass commutations.

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 18, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Group nitpicking. Influence/contributions are endemic throughout politics. Catch this video on the financial industry:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/02132009/watch.html

Posted by: Luther on February 18, 2009 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Group nitpicking. Influence/contributions are endemic throughout politics.

Really? Thanks for the insight!

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 18, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I now withdraw my previous defenses of Burris. Away with him.

Posted by: Neil B on February 18, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

For Blago, Burris is the gift that keeps on giving. The whole reason for making the appointment was to stick a finger in the eye of the IL Democratic political establishment that was pushing Blago out. Now even after he was seated Burris is creating headaches.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 18, 2009 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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