Embattled Sen. Roland Burris on Wednesday again defended the testimony he gave to the Illinois House during his appointment process, this time in a speech to the City Club of Chicago.
Burris said that after Wednesday, he would no longer "engage the media and have facts ripped out in selected soundbytes," citing the investigation by the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee.
As if to prove his point, Burris' office released an updated schedule for his "listening tour," announcing that he's cancelling his scheduled trip to Rockford on Thursday, and all events the senator is holding through the end of the week are "closed to the press."
During his City Club speech, Burris said the facts about his appointment and testimony are all out, and they break down into three points:
- “Yes, I told people around the governor that I wanted to serve in the Senate. Yes, I told my friends, I told the media. I told anyone who would listen that I was interested in serving Illinois in the Senate.
- ”No, I did not have conversations about my appointment -- I’m talking about actually being appointed -- with anyone other than the governor’s attorney. No one else reached out to me to talk about the appointment, and that is in my affidavit also.
- "Yes, the governor’s brother reached out to me as he’s done over the years, to do fundraising when he’s made the call. But I did not give one single dollar to the governor, that’s simple.
"Let me say this again – I have nothing to hide and I will continue to be transparent," Burris said, adding that he would speak with the Sangamon state’s attorney, the Senate Ethics Committee or any federal authority that would like to hear from him about his appointment and the testimony he gave to the Illinois House Impeachment Committee.
A final questioner at the City Club asked if Burris thought it was "wrong of you to solicit funds for Rod Blagojevich at the same time you were being considered for the Senate." The senator started to answer, saying he was "never considered for the Senate," but then stopped, and said he would "not make any responses to those questions."
Despite Burris’ repeated affirmations that he “did nothing wrong,” calls for his resignation have been growing louder after he released an affidavit saying he was contacted by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother about raising campaign funds.
Gov. Pat Quinn said Burris is serving with a cloud over him and that he needs to answer questions from law enforcement under oath about his testimony at former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment hearings.
Speaking to reporters after an event at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Quinn called Burris' decision to accept Blagojevich's appointment to the senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama a "gigantic mistake" and said Burris is now paying the price for that decision.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Illinois residents deserve to know how Burris came to be appointed to the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Barack Obama.
Sen. Dick Durbin, who reluctantly supported the Burris apointment, is in Greece with Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and didn't sound supportive when asked about the latest drama.
"His sworn testimony, in springfield, did not satisfy our requirement, in that it was not complete and we need to have the complete story before any final conclusion can be reached," Durbin said.
Burris may be forced to say that he won't run in 2010, leaving the door wide open to other candidates.
Already there is talk that Urban League director Cheryle Jackson is interested, as well as Giannoulias and Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Phil Hare on the Democratic side. Republican's include Reps. Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam. Downstate Rep. John Shimkus may also run.