February 15, 2009 / 4:01 AM / 11 years ago

Burris says Blagojevich's brother sought donation

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Roland Burris, named to fill the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama, has disclosed he was asked for campaign contributions on behalf of the ousted Illinois governor who eventually appointed him.

Former Illinois attorney general and senate appointee Roland Burris, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's choice to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama, speaks to the media at BWI airport on his way to Washington DC, in Baltimore, Maryland, January 5, 2009. REUTERS/Molly Riley

Burris said in an affidavit released on Saturday he did not agree to contribute money to then-Governor Rod Blagojevich. But he did not mention the contacts when quizzed on that point in January by a committee of the Illinois Legislature after his appointment on December 30.

Media reports in Chicago said some Republicans in the Legislature planned to call on prosecutors to open an investigation of the Democratic senator.

The appointment of Burris, a former Illinois attorney general, was controversial because Blagojevich, facing impeachment, was under pressure by leading fellow Democrats to let his successor make the choice.

Blagojevich was ousted from office on January 29 after being convicted by the Illinois Senate on abuse of power impeachment charges. The action followed his arrest the previous month on charges filed by federal prosecutors who said he had tried to sell Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Burris has said the charges against Blagojevich had “nothing to do” with him and the appointment was perfectly legal.

In the February 5 affidavit to the legislative committee before which he previously testified, Burris said he wanted to “supplement” previous testimony with “other events that I have been able to recall to make certain the record is complete.”

He said that Blagojevich’s brother Rob called him once not long before the November presidential election and twice shortly afterward “to seek my assistance in fundraising.”

Burris said that in one of the conversations he told the governor’s brother that he could not contribute money to Blagojevich because it “could be viewed as an attempt to curry favor with him regarding his decision to appoint a successor to President Obama.”

“I did not raise or donate any funds to Governor Blagojevich since a fundraiser on June 27, 2008,” Burris added.

Blagojevich, who was in his second term, has denied doing anything wrong. He has not been indicted.

Editing by Peter Cooney

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