On January 6, Roland W. Burris, seeking to become the junior Senator (D) from Illinois, issued an affadavit claiming no significant relationship with Rod Blagojevich (D). From the Associated Press:
“Burris submitted the affidavit to the Illinois House committee considering impeachment of the governor. He’s supposed to testify before the committee on Thursday.
Burris says he was approached by a Blagojevich attorney about taking the Senate post on Friday, December 26. Two days later, he accepted the appointment in a phone call with the governor.
The 71-year-old Democrat says the two didn’t discuss anything beyond whether Burris would take the job and how it would be announced.
That statement appears to rule out any discussion of a deal or of what Burris would do as a senator.”
Fox News’ account differs. They report that “Roland Burris has denied having any relationship with disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but a close examination of his record raises new questions about his claim.”
According to MyFoxChicago.com “Burris…held a 2006 fundraiser for the governor at his home.” In addition:
“Burris and his lobbying firm also donated $22,295 to Blagojevich’s campaign, according to MyFOXChicago.com.
Over the past four years, Burris’ lobbying firm reportedly won $705,435 in state contracts.
And Burris’ longtime lobbying partner Fred Lebed is a board member of the Christian Industrial League— the same group that hired Blagojevich’s wife Patricia.”
Fred Lebed denies “any involvement” with the hiring of Mrs. Blagojevich, reports MyFoxChicago.com.
As for Bobby Rush pushing for Burris to be seated, Mark Brown of the Sun Times has some interesting reflections:
“…In 2004, Rush also founded a non-profit social services arm of the church, Beloved Community Family Services Inc., which works with at-risk children in the impoverished Englewood neighborhood, and followed that up by creating a sister agency, Beloved Community Family Wellness Center, which is a federally qualified community health center.
The wellness center has received more than $2 million in state funding over the last three years, starting with a $1 million contract from the Department of Public Health in fiscal 2007. The family service agency has received at least $250,000 in state funds during the same period.
….In a phone call Monday evening between negotiations on the Burris situation, Rush said he was unaware of how much money the organizations receive from the state and hasn’t done anything lately to help them get funding.
As to my suggestion of a linkage between Burris and the state money, Rush was direct: “You are absolutely wrong.”
“I have not said one word in defense of the governor,” Rush said. “I’m not defending him one way or another.””
Burris also has financial ties to Bobby Rush (D), having repeatedly contributed to his campaigns since 2002. According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Burris gave Rush
– $200 in 2002,
– $250 in 2003,
– $500 in 2004, and
– $500 in 2006.
His consulting partner, Fred Lebed, gave Rush $500 in 2004 and another colleague who works at Burris, Wright, Slaughter, and Tom LLC—Timothy W. Wright, III—contributed $250 to Rush in 2000. (BWST LLC shares the same office suite as Burris & Lebed Consulting).