Journalism in the Public Interest

Burris Punts on Promise

Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) claims he has proof he never made an inconsistent statement about his appointment to the Senate, only he can’t show it to you.

The proof, his lawyer said, lies in a secret memo that Burris prepared this month. The lawyer, Tim Wright, said the memo will show that the media is responsible for Burris’ shifting accounts of how then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich came to appoint him to be Illinois’ junior senator.

Just last month, Burris promised to share his proof with the public. On Feb. 17, Burris told reporters there was “never any inappropriate conversation between me and anyone else” leading to his appointment, and the memo showing that would “be provided to the public later this week.”

That declaration led us to wind up the ProPublica Promise Clock to track just how long it takes Burris to release the document.

Five weeks later, Wright told us he can’t release the recently completed memo because it was prepared for a local state’s attorney who’s investigating whether Burris committed perjury before an Illinois House of Representatives panel in January.

Burris’ testimony (PDF) before the panel was one of several conflicting accounts he gave of his contact with Blagojevich’s allies. While facing direct questions from lawmakers, Burris failed to disclose to the panel that he’d expressed his interest in the Senate seat to six Blagojevich insiders, including Rob Blagojevich, the former governor’s brother. See our complete timeline of Burris’ evolving story here.

John Schmidt, the state’s attorney considering criminal charges against Burris, told us he has received the memo and that his “review still continues.” He wouldn’t say when the document arrived.

Once Schmidt completes his investigation, Wright told us he would consider releasing the memo, but he wasn’t making any guarantees. “It’s up to my client,” he said.

So the clock ticks on.

Since when has a politician, who is under fire for his statements, made good on any promise other than the one to cover his own ass?
We again are faced with the prospect of having another politician, who in the light of day cannot keep to his word and must make some excuse for the lack of integrity and honesty that seems to go along with the ‘career’ political class that has arisen in this country.
The founding fathers never meant to engender a full-time political class of employees, that have benefits above and beyond the people. We the people are the government, not the people, who holding office, claim for themselves the cream of the crop and take for themselves the best that the lobbyists can buy.
It is high time that the people, become reinvigorated in the political arena and start listening to those who
make claims on the political class.
This political class of employees, Senators, Congressmen, Presidents, Judges, Attorneys, and others,
is analogous to the landed nobility that our founding fathers fought against in the Revolutionary War. These people do not respect your rights and will not look out
for your best interests. Should these men and women, not have the integrity and character, they should be voted out of office at the earliest opportunity.

The various accounts came directly from Burris’ own testimony.  We heard him state he had minimal contact with Blagojevich and his people before being offered the Senate seat.  We heard him state, on record, that he had not involved himself with fundraising.  We heard him state, after being seated, that he had in fact had extensive contact with Blago’s people, and that he had, in fact, attempted fundraising.  We heard that because Burris spoke on camera.

And while we’re at it, is Ted Stevens EVER going to prison?

Burris grappled his way to the senate and is a chip-off the ole Blago block. What other legacy could we expect, this allows Burris to bask in the senate sun and etch another accomplishment on his outlandish tombstone and testament to his existence that one can see while visiting the grave yard.

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