The Multiple Layers of That Burris-Blagojevich Call
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 4:41 pm
Following yesterday’s release of a secretly taped conversation between Roland Burris and the brother of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), there’s been a great deal of focus on Burris’ vow to “personally do something” for the governor “before the 15th of December.”
The governor was arrested six days before the Dec. 15 deadline, so we’ll never know for sure if Burris — who at the time was seeking President Obama’s vacated senate seat — intended to follow through on that statement to Robert Blagojevich, who was allegedly seeking to help his brother trade the seat for cash. But there are several other layers in that conversation that haven’t gotten as much attention as they might deserve.
First, Burris contemplates ways to disguise a contribution to the governor’s campaign so that it wouldn’t appear related to the Senate appointment process, at one point saying he “might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright,” his law partner.
As The Chicago Tribune points out today, Illinois law prohibits campaign donations made in the name of someone else — something Burris, once the attorney general of Illinois, might have known.
And second, Burris indicates that he won’t be able to check in with Wright for several more days because Wright was “in New York trying to drum up business.” What sort of business? “He’s trying to get a part of that, ah, federal bailout stuff,” Burris says. “Cause you know we’re, you know he’s, we’ve got a financial law firm here so they’re trying to get involved in that.”
So in summary, we’ve got a former state attorney general whose law partner is busy chasing federal bailout dollars around the country while he’s scratching his head over how to make clandestine contributions through that partner to an allegedly corrupt governor while at the same time not jeopardizing the chance that the governor might appoint him to the U.S. Senate.
This whole episode might not be illegal — it might not even breach the Senate’s lax ethics rules — but it sure does make a case for stemming the influence of money in politics.
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