- The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2009

The Senate Select Committee on Ethics admonished Sen. Roland W. Burris on Friday for giving “inconsistent, incomplete and misleading” testimony about contact with disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich prior receiving his senate appointment. The committee issued a “letter of qualified admonition,” chastising Mr. Burris for being less than truthful about the circumstances surrounding his appointment to fill the seat vacated by President Obama.

But the committee said the misconduct, while reflecting poorly on the Senate, does not appear to be “any actionable violations of law.”

Mr. Burris, Illinois Democrat, said he was pleased “this matter is finally closed.” He stressed that the committee had cleared him of “any legal wrongdoing.”

Previously, he said he would not seek election to the Senate next year.

His appointment on New Years Eve 2008 came less than a month after Mr. Blogojevich was arrested by federal authorities for corruption, including scheming to sell the vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

During the impeachment of Mr. Blagojevich, which resulted in his ejection from office Jan. 29, 2009, Mr. Burris gave sworn testimony to Illinois House that he had not had contact with the governor prior to his appointment.

Mr. Burris had in fact spoken to Mr. Blagojevich by phone Nov. 13, 2008, which the ethics panel called “inappropriate.”

The committee also said Mr. Burris’ sworn testimony during the Illinois House impeachment hearings was “inconsistent, incomplete and misleading” and his “shifting explanations about your sworn statements appear less than candid.”

“When Robert Blagojevich called you on November 13, 2008, he was explicit about the purpose of his call: to raise campaign funds for his brother,” the letter to Mr. Burris said. “Yet, During this conversation in which you appeared to agree to write a check and even potentially raise money for Governor Blagojevich, you repeatedly brought up your desire to seek the Senate seat. … The committee finds that this conversation was inappropriate in its content and implications.”

Mr. Burris, who earlier was cleared of violating the law in an investigation by the Sangamon County States Attorney in Springfield, Ill., said he was relieved to put the episode behind him.

“I am pleased that after numerous investigations, this matter has finally come to a close,” Mr. Burris said in a statement. “I thank the members of the Senate Ethics Committee for their fair and thorough review of this matter, and now look forward to continuing the important work ahead on behalf of the people of Illinois.”

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