Rod Blagojevich's choice to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat, Roland Burris, helped raise money for the governor on multiple occasions.
Blagojevich's choice is already being met with a steep wave of skepticism, because the embattled Illinois Governor was caught by the feds allegedly trying to auction off the seat to the highest bidder. Burris' ties to Blagojevich, despite his recent criticisms of the governor, seem destined to tarnish his appointment even further.
The former Illinois Attorney General gave $4,500 to Blagojevich's campaign fund in the form of personal donations and donations from -- what appear to be -- him and his wife, according to Illinois State records. The most recent donation came on June 27, 2008, when the governor was knee-deep in charges of ethical misconduct.
Burris also attended high-end Blagojevich fundraisers on at least three separate occasions, according to a review of newspaper filings by the Huffington Post. Most recently, in July 2008, he was in a crowd of 1,000 at the Chicago's River East Art Center when Blagojevich -- beset by ethics scandals -- hosted one of six events to raise money for his campaign fund (which had suffered because of mounting legal bills).
In April 2006, Burris hosted a 3,000 person event in the main hall of Chicago's Field Museum. That event saw Blagojevich soliciting donations of $1,000 for "sponsors" $2,500 for "patrons," $5,000 for "benefactors" and $10,000 for "co-chairs," according to the invitation.
In July 2005, Burris was one of more than 1,000 people who attended Blagojevich's annual political fund-raiser. That year, the governor -- who had defeated Burris in the gubernatorial primary just three years earlier -- raised a reported $4 million.
That Burris showed up at these events and donated to the governor's campaign would not, under normal circumstances, be remarkable. Neither is the extent of his own donations, which are relatively paltry by Illinois standards. After all, Democrats help fellow Democrats. But Blagojevich was mired in ethics complaints at the time of the latter fundraisers. Moreover, the governor stands accused of attempting to sell the Illinois Senate seat in a pay-for-play scheme. To achieve complete legitimacy, anyone appointed to take Obama's seat will need to have offered no financial help whatsoever to the governor.
Burris, as noted, has been a recent critic of Blagojevich, calling on the governor to relinquish his post in light of his recent arrest. But he wasn't always that much of a thorn in his side. In March 2006, as the Chicago Sun-Times was reporting on growing criticism of the governor's political tactics, the former A.G. was quoted as saying:
"I can't see how anyone can say he is not governing," Burris said. "I think he is doing a helluva job."
UPDATE: ArchPundit has more on the donations made from Burris to Blagojevich's campaign fund. In this case: more than $10,000 was donated from the former A.G.'s consulting and lobbying shop, Burris & Lebed, to the governor. The site also has a rundown on the state contracts that Burris' firm has received.
Burris, in his introductory press conference today, dismissed a question about the money he has raised and donated to Blagojevich, saying that the total figures seemed too high for his firm's budget.
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