Ethics Panel Issues Qualified Admonition to Sen. Burris, but recommends no punishment
The Senate ethics committee on Friday admonished Sen. Roland Burris (D., Ill.), for making "inconsistent, misleading or incomplete" statements about the circumstances surrounding his appointment to the seat once held by Barack Obama.
The committee didn't recommend any punishment.
Mr. Burris was appointed by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and driven from office after he was accused of trying to sell the Senate seat.
The committee's "Public Letter of Qualified Admonition" told Mr. Burris that while it found no violations of law "Senators must meet a much higher standard of conduct." . . .
Just to remind people about what had happened:
After Blagojevich was arrested on Dec. 9 and charged with public corruption , including trying to trade the Senate appointment for jobs or campaign cash, Democratic leaders in Illinois and Washington -- including Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate leader -- urged the governor not to make an appointment.
Burris, a former Illinois attorney general and comptroller -- but by then a political has-been -- accepted the appointment from the tainted governor, but the U.S. Senate was reluctant to seat him under the circumstances.
Under a deal struck with Senate leaders, Burris agreed to appear before the Blagojevich impeachment panel, the Illinois House Special Investigative Committee , to testify about the circumstances surrounding his appointment.
After he testified, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that Burris had failed to initially disclose under oath to the House panel that he was hit up for up to $10,000 in campaign cash in three conversations with Robert Blagojevich, the governor's brother and fund-raiser who also now faces federal charges.
Burris released changes to his testimony after the Sun-Times raised questions about his contacts with Blagojevich's camp. . . .
Here is the testimony that got Burris in trouble.
Rep. Jim Durkin: "Did you talk to any members of the governor's staff or anyone closely related to the governor, including family members or any lobbyists connected with him, including, let me throw out some names -- John Harris, Rob Blagojevich, Doug Scofield, Bob Greenleaf, Lon Monk, John Wyma? Did you talk to anybody . . . associated with the governor about your desire to seek the appointment prior to the governor's arrest?"
Burris lawyer Timothy Wright: "Give us a moment." (Wright and Burris confer.)
Burris: "I talked to some friends about my desire to be appointed, yes."
Durkin: "I guess the point is I was trying to ask: Did you speak to anybody who was on the governor's staff prior to the governor's arrest or anybody, any of those individuals or anybody who is closely related to the governor?"
Burris: "I recall having a meeting with Lon Monk about my partner and I trying to get continued business, and I did bring it up -- it must have been in September or maybe it was in July of '08 that, you know, you're close to the governor, let him know that I am certainly interested in the seat."