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U.S. Senate ethics committee admonishes Sen. Burris

November 23, 2009

An unseemly part of recent Illinois history was replayed again this past week.

U.S. Senator Roland Burris

Members of the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee sent Sen. Roland Burris “a public letter of qualified admonition” for his behind the scenes lobbying and less than candid public disclosures leading up to and following his Senate appointment.   The letter made three conclusions.

  • “Your sworn affidavit and sworn testimony before the Illinois House of Representatives were inconsistent, incomplete, and misleading.”
  • “Your shifting explanations about your sworn statements appear less than candid.”
  • “Your November 13, 2008 phone call with Robert Blagojevich, while not rising to the level of an explicit quid pro quo, was inappropriate.”

Recognizing that Sangamon County authorities cleared Sen. Burris of any criminal wrongdoing, the committee nevertheless concluded that “your actions and statements reflected unfavorably on the Senate.”

So what does a Senator say after he’s been admonished by the Ethics Committee?   He reminds his constituents that he’s been cleared of wrongdoing, thanks the committee for its “fair and thorough review of the matter,” and explains how critical his vote is on healthcare reform.

In recent months, Senator Burris has emerged as a key member of the Democratic caucus as they seek to piece together the critical 60 votes needed to pass President Obama’s health care legislation through the United States Senate.  He has become a strong voice for the inclusion of a strong public option, and his vote is seen as vital for final passage.

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