- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. | Sen. Roland W. Burris now acknowledges attempting to raise money for ousted Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich - an explosive twist in his ever-changing story on how he landed a coveted Senate appointment from the man accused of trying to sell the seat.

Mr. Burris made the admission after releasing an affidavit over the weekend saying he had more contact with Mr. Blagojevich’s aides about the Senate seat than he had described under oath to the state House panel that recommended Mr. Blagojevich’s impeachment. The Democrat also said in the affidavit, but not before the panel, that the governor’s brother asked him for fundraising help.

Though Mr. Burris insists he never raised money for Mr. Blagojevich while the governor was considering whom to appoint to the seat President Obama vacated, the revelation that he had attempted to do so is likely to increase calls for Mr. Burris’ resignation and an investigation into whether he committed perjury before the panel. Illinois Democrats have forwarded documents related to Mr. Burris’ testimony to a county prosecutor for review.

Mr. Burris would not answer questions Tuesday in Peoria about his attempts to raise funds for Mr. Blagojevich, but said he didn’t do anything wrong and encouraged officials to look into the matter.

“I welcome the opportunity to go before any and all investigative bodies, including those referred by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Senate ethics committee to answer any questions they have,” he told reporters Tuesday.

Mr. Burris also said he planned to release later this week “a concise document” related to his testimony, but he would not elaborate.

After an event Monday night in Peoria, Mr. Burris told reporters that he had reached out to friends after Mr. Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, called him before Mr. Obama’s election asking him to raise $10,000 or $15,000 for the governor.

“So some time shortly after Obama was elected, the brother called,” Mr. Burris said, according to a transcript posted on the Chicago Tribune’s Web site. “And now in the meantime, I’d talked to some people about trying to see if we could put a fundraiser 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.’ ”

Mr. Burris said he left open the possibility that he and his business partner could go to others for money.

He reiterated that he never did end up donating to the governor or holding a fundraiser, and said that he told Robert Blagojevich in a later conversation that he couldn’t raise money because he was interested in the Senate seat. Mr. Burris, however, had already discussed the Senate seat with aides to the governor, including Robert Blagojevich, before the November election.

Mr. Burris is in the midst of a previously scheduled tour of northern and central Illinois cities as he tries to get his Senate legs by hearing constituents’ concerns.

Lawmakers of both parties have said Mr. Burris should resign after he admitted over the weekend that he had talked to several aides of the governor before getting the Senate post. During his testimony before the panel, he said he remembered talking only to one aide about the seat and did not say he was hit up for campaign donations.

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