Roland Burris, this is your life, pt. 1

Roland Burris, this is your life, pt. 1

Posted by JP on Tue, 01/06/2009 - 10:38

Update 2: Burris' office
Gov. Blagojevich has offered to let Roland Burris use the state's Washington D.C. office since the U.S. Senate isn't going to give him one. Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said Burris is being extended the same courtesy as any other member of Illinois' delegation.
No, Burris will not get a key or use of state-paid staff.
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UPDATE: Statement from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

On today’s actions by the U.S. Senate

CHICAGO - “The people of Illinois are entitled to be represented by two senators in the United States Senate. As governor, it is my duty and obligation to appoint a senator when there is a vacancy. I have done that by appointing Roland Burris, a good and decent man with a long history of public service in Illinois. Any allegations against me should not be held against him and especially not the people of Illinois,” Governor Rod R. Blagojevich said.
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It's about time to dig into the Roland Burris file and see what gems can be found.

But before that a couple updates.
The House impeachment investigation panel cancelled its Tuesday meeting, rescheduling for Wednesday and with the full House expected in later this week for a possible vote before week's end on an impeachment recommendation regarding embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who's out on bail following his arrest last month on federal conspiracy charges.
Burris has been subpoenaed to testify and is likely to do so Thursday. Expect questions about exactly what he and the governor talked about before Burris was announced as Blagojevich's pick to be the next senator from Illinois.

OK, back to the news vault.

Feb. 2, 1992: "Burris borrowed $28,200 from his campaign fund" -- Chuck Neubauer and Mark Brown, (Sun-Times) Staff Writers

A spokesman for Burris said the Chicago Democrat used the money to increase his state pension benefits.
By paying $28,200 into the state pension fund, Burris can draw the maximum pension benefit when he retires.

I'm expecting to hear back today from state pension officials as to exactly what that pension benefit is these days. It'll be more than $100,000, which is more than Burris ever made as a statewide official.

Feb. 4, 1985: "Burris firm linked to probe of school" -- Michael Briggs, Sun-Times Bureau

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Comptroller Roland W. Burris, who paid $442,508 in disputed state scholarship funds to a Chicago college, is affiliated with a law firm representing an official of the same college in a federal grand jury investigation.
...
Burris said he recently discovered that Mitchell Ware, a partner in the firm, represents a St. Augustine College official in the grand jury investigation being conducted by the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago.
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Meanwhile, state payments to St. Augustine had been withheld by the Illinois State Scholarship Commission after an audit completed a year ago questioned the eligibility of some students at the two-year, private institution. Over the commission's objection, the comptroller decided in December to issue a check to the college for the scholarship funds.

March 8 (probably 1985): "Burris intervened in pal's conviction" -- Maurice Possley, Tribune

Illinois Comptroller Roland Burris urged a federal judge last month to place a Chicago pharmacist, who contributed to Burris' campaigns, on probation after the man was convicted of defrauding Medicaid out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Burris, the state's chief bill payer, wrote to U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras on behalf of George Leonard, convicted of defrauding the state by submitting hundreds of false prescriptions bills to Medicaid, administered by the Illinois Department of Public Aid.
...
A spokesman for Burris said that the letter, dated Feb. 22, was written "not in an official capacity as a comptroller, but as a friend."
The spokesman acknowledged that the letterhead listed Burris as comptroller for the State of Illinois but said that the stationery was printed at Burris' expense, which was noted at the bottom of the page.
The letter urged Kocoras to place Leonard on probation and to order him to do community service rather than sentence him to prison.

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