From Associated Content
Senator Roland Burris conceded Saturday that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's brother, Rodney Blagojevich, tried to shake him down three times for campaign contributions. This was during the time that Burris was among candidates for appointment to the Illinois Senate seat that became vacant when Barack Obama was elected president.
The Roland Burris revelation adds evidence to allegations that Rod Blagojevich pursued a fraudulent and illegal pay-to-play strategy for the Senate seat. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says he already has evidence on tape, regarding not only the Senate seat but regarding state funds for everything from toll booths to a children's hospital.
Roland Burris also suffers a credibility lapse, because he previously had testified that there were no pay-to-play offers made by Rod Blagojevich or his political team.
A twist of this story is that while Senate Democrats initially tried to fight Rod Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris, they needed Burris' vote to pass the $789billion economic stimulus package with a filibuster-proof minimum threshhold of 60 votes. As it was, the Democrats needed to call Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown back to Washington from Brown's home state, where he was attending his mother's wake, of all things. The next option would have been to try to pull Teddy Kennedy from his sick bed.
In other words, Rod Blagojevich apparently was one of the key actors for passage of the economic stimulus package. Is that ironic, or what?
Roland Burris gave testimony in January to a Blagojevich impeachment hearing in the Illinois Senate. Burris testified that he never had pay-to-play conversations, which would have regarded an effort to raise money for Blagojevich in exchange for the U.S. Senate appointment. Patrick Fitzgerald has asserted that Rod Blagojevich, on a taped wiretap, mentioned a desire of sums of $500,000 and $1 million, although Blagojevich did not mention Burris by name.