ILLINIOS lawmakers call for Burris to resign


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Two Illinois state lawmakers are calling for swift resignation by U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, whose fighting allegations he worked with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother on a favor for the governor in exchange for an appointment to the Senate seat.
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State Rep. Jim Durkin -- the ranking Republican on the impeachment panel who questioned Burris during his Jan. 8 testimony -- and Democratic Rep. Jack Franks claim Burris committed perjury and should be removed from office.

Durkin and Franks have for months pushed for two resolutions to go before the state House Rules Committee -- one reprimanding Burris for inconsistencies in his testimony and the other calling for his resignation. Their demands were given new fuel this week when a judge ordered the release of secretly recorded conversations between Burris and Robert Blagojevich. Both brothers are facing charges relating to pay-to-play schemes.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who controls the committee, has so far not allowed rejected their attempts.

"There's direct evidence that Burris lied before the committee," said Durkin, who questioned Burris during the Illinois House impeachment hearing last January. "His testimony before my committee is completely in contradiction to the wiretap transcript that was released."

In a Jan. 5 sworn-affidavit filed before Burris testified before the Illinois impeachment committee, Burris wrote that "prior to the December 26, 2008, telephone call from Mr. Adams Jr., there was not any contact between myself or any of my representatives with Governor Blagojevich or any of his representatives regarding my appointment to the United States Senate."

But in the FBI wiretap transcript recorded Nov. 13, Burris tells Rob Blagojevich -- then chairman of the ex-governor's reelection campaign -- that he would "personally do something" to help the governor and offered to "give him a check."

"I will personally do something, okay," Burris said, while he touted his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

The transcript also reveals that Burris agonized over how to give money to Blagojevich without it appearing that he "bought" the seat.

"It has so many negative connotations that Burris is trying to buy an appointment...from the governor...for the Senate seat," Burris said. "I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment."

Burris, who said he and Blagojevich would "catch hell" if , and suggested having his law partner -- Tim Wright -- write the check.

"My law partner we were gonna try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright," he said.

He ended his phone conversation by saying, "Tell Rod to keep me in mind for that seat, would ya?"

Burris defended his innocence Wednesday, saying he was "placating" Blagojevich's brother and never intended follow through on his words.

"I was only placating -- placating the governor's brother," Burris told NBC's Chris Matthews on Wednesday.

"I did not raise a dime because I knew I couldn't raise any money. And after I hung up the telephone from the conversation, I said I couldn't even give him a check," Burris told Matthews.

While U.S. Senate Democrats have been quiet on the matter, and U.S. Senate Republicans have yet to offer any response, Illinois GOP lawmakers say Burris' "evolving" story has tarnished the U.S. Senate seat and his own credibility.

"If he had an iota of integrity he should resign, but his gargantuan ego won't allow that so the Senate should do the right thing and remove him," Franks told on Thursday.

"Mr. Burris took an oath to tell the truth and he did not. What kind of message does that send for policy in the future? It's ok to lie. We're not going to reprimand you," added Durkin. "It defies logic."

Meanwhile, Illinois Republicans are hoping the newly released wiretap transcript will add fuel to their campaign efforts in 2010, when Burris' seat is up for election. A candidate has not yet emerged to execute a GOP strategy.

"Our game plan is to win that Senate seat," said one Republican operative, who described the inconsistencies in Burris' testimony as a "Democratic problem."

"There is no political future for Roland Burris. The Blagojevich Democrats control every facet of Illinois politics. They're the ones who endorsed Roland Burris and put him into this spot."

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