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New Promise We're Tracking: Burris Explains It All

Getty ImagesRoland Burris has said for weeks that he never made an inconsistent statement about how he became a senator and that he is preparing a document to prove it.

On Feb. 17, Burris told reporters there was "never any inappropriate conversation between me and anyone else" leading to his appointment last year and his lawyers were "working on a concise document that will be provided to the public later this week."

But now, two weeks later, the memo still hasn’t been completed. Burris’ lawyer, Tim Wright, said in an interview that it might be finalized this week but will not immediately be made public, despite Burris’ pledge to do so.

In turn, we are winding up the ProPublica Promise Clock to track just how long it takes Burris to complete the memo and whether its details are ever publicly revealed.

The document is being prepared for a local state’s attorney’s investigation into whether Burris committed perjury before an Illinois House of Representatives panel in January. Burris’ testimony before the panel was one of several conflicting accounts he gave of his contact with allies of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who appointed Burris to the Senate.

While facing direct questions from lawmakers, Burris failed to disclose to the panel that he expressed his interest in the Senate seat to six Blagojevich insiders, including John Harris, the former governor’s chief of staff, and Rob Blagojevich, his brother. See our complete timeline of Burris’ developing story here.

The completed memo, Wright said, will show that the media, not Burris, are responsible for the senator’s shifting accounts.

"It shows what was said, as opposed to half-statements put out in the press," Wright told us. 

But the public may never learn what mysterious information supposedly sets the record straight, even though Burris said two weeks ago that the memo would be publicly released. When done drafting it, Wright said he will send the memo only to Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Schmidt.

"I know [Burris] wants to make it public, but we will abide by whatever the state’s attorney wants," Wright said. "I know there’s an interest in it and we’ll do what we can."

That’s not good enough, Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said in an interview.

"It’s fair and right for people to demand to see [the memo]," Canary said. "This is not a senator who has shown a lot of interest in speaking with candor to the people."

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