Sen. Burris won't face perjury charge

June 19, 2009 8:45:48 AM PDT
Illinois Sen. Roland Burris will not be charged with perjury for statements he made before an Illinois House impeachment committee because there isn't enough evidence to support the charge, the state prosecutor investigating the case said Friday. Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt said that while some of Burris' statements were vague, they wouldn't support a perjury charge.

Burris, 71, was appointed to President Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich after the FBI arrested Blagojevich on corruption charges. Those charges include allegations that Blagojevich tried to sell the seat for political donations.

The new senator has been under intense scrutiny because of the circumstances surrounding his appointment and for changing his story multiple times about whether he promised anything for Blagojevich in exchange for the seat. The ethics committee began a preliminary investigation into how Burris got his job, and the Sangamon County State's Attorney was asked to determine whether perjury charges were warranted.

Burris has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and asserted his appointment to the Senate was clean.

According to a wiretap transcript of conversations between Burris and Blagojevich, Burris promised to "personally do something" for the then-governor's campaign fund while pressing Blagojevich to appoint him to the seat.

The remark came after Robert Blagojevich urged Burris to "keep me in mind and you know if you guys can just write checks that'd be fine, if we can't find a way for you to tie in."

"Okay, okay, well we, we, I, I will personally do something, okay," Burris says.

Earlier in the conversation, Burris and Robert Blagojevich explored the possibility that Burris might raise campaign money on a larger scale.

"I know I could give him a check," Burris said. "Myself."

Burris attorney Timothy Wright has said Burris never wrote any checks to the Blagojevich campaign following the conversation. Burris, a former Illinois attorney general, had donated to Blagojevich's campaigns previously.

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