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Governor Quinn Looking Into State Hiring Of Burris' Son

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Pat Quinn is reviewing how the son of embattled U.S. Sen. Roland Burris got a state job as a housing-agency lawyer under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration, just weeks after he landed in tax and foreclosure trouble.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that the September hiring of Roland Burris II as senior counsel for the Illinois Housing Development Authority came six weeks after the Internal Revenue Service slapped him with a $34,163 tax lien and three weeks after a mortgage company filed a foreclosure lawsuit on his Chicago home.

Quinn said Thursday that his office was reviewing how the younger Burris got the job to "make sure everything is right and proper."

"I think the matter deserves serious review, and quickly," he said.

Quinn noted that the housing authority makes its own hiring decisions, but he said he might have some recommendations to make after looking into the issue.

The Housing Authority oversees mortgage programs for low-income home buyers and anti-foreclosure initiatives. The Sun-Times reported that the foreclosure lawsuit against the younger Burris and his wife is seeking $406,685, including interest and penalties.

Authority spokeswoman Man Yee Lee said the younger Burris was given the $75,000-a-year job based on his qualifications and in response to a published job posting.

The senator is fending off calls for his resignation because of conflicting testimony he provided to the state House panel that drafted impeachment charges against Blagojevich.

On Thursday, members of the city Council's Black Caucus defended Burris, the nation's only black senator, and his son. Alderman Freddrenna Lyle said white politicians have not been similarly targeted for accusations of wrongdoing.

"We don't want the seat to be denied Roland under circumstances not applied to someone else," Lyle said, adding that the review of Burris' son was "so unfair."

Burris media consultant Delmarie Cobb said in a note to the caucus that the main objective of the black community, regardless of how individuals feel about Burris, should be to keep a black person in the seat.

"Holding onto the Senate seat is bigger than Roland," she wrote.

Burris' spokesman referred questions to lawyer Timothy Wright III, who declined comment. A message left for the younger Burris at his office was not immediately returned.

Quinn spokesman Bob Reed said that even before the hiring of Burris' son was reported, the governor's top lawyer and chief of staff had launched a review of attorneys at all state agencies to make sure they're all capable. He would not say whether the administration is checking the performance of other kinds of staffers.


Associated Press writers Andrea Zelinski and Christopher Wills in Springfield, Tammy Webber in Chicago and researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.