TOPICS > Politics

Amid Calls for Ouster, Burris Proclaims Innocence

BY Admin  February 19, 2009 at 4:55 PM EDT

Ill. Sen. Roland Burris; file photo

“You know the real Roland. I have done nothing wrong
and I have absolutely nothing to hide,” Burris said in a feisty speech
before a gathering of civic leaders, politicians and businesspeople, the
Chicago Tribune reported.

 

Listen to WBEZ reporter Rob Wildeboer discuss the political challenges Burris faces:

 

The junior senator said he would cooperate “in any way
I can” with the Sangamon County state’s attorney’s perjury review into his
sworn testimony on his ties to Blagojevich as well as a preliminary
investigation opened by the Senate Ethics Committee.

“The public statements made by Mr. Burris to this point
have raised questions which need to be looked at very carefully,” Sen.
Dick Durbin, also from Illinois and the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, told reporters
on the matter. “His sworn testimony in Springfield did not satisfy our
requirement in that it was not complete and we need to have the complete story
before the final conclusion that we reach.”

Burris’ recent admission that he had more contact with
Blagojevich advisers about the Senate seat than he described under oath to a
state House impeachment panel has furious lawmakers asking for an investigation
into whether the Democrat committed perjury.

The revelation that Burris tried to raise money for the
governor after Blagojevich’s brother asked him for fundraising help has
triggered calls for Burris’ resignation. Burris, meanwhile, insists he never
raised money for Blagojevich while the governor considered whom to appoint to
the U.S. Senate seat President Barack Obama vacated, according to the
Associated Press.

Illinois legislators removed Blagojevich from office in late
January amid a furor over his arrest on federal corruption charges. Blagojevich
is alleged to have tried to profit from his authority to name a replacement for
the vacant Senate seat, among other claims.

The Chicago Tribune on Wednesday added its voice to the
chorus demanding Burris’ resignation. In an editorial in its Wednesday
editions, the paper said Burris has lost the benefit of the doubt with his
latest version of events.

Democratic state Rep. Lou Lang and U.S. Rep. Phil Hare are
the latest politicians to call for his resignation, the Tribune reported. They
join a slew of 5th Congressional District candidates and Republican lawmakers,
including state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington.

State Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Burris will have a
difficult time being effective on Capitol Hill as long as he is under
investigation, the AP reported.