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Burris Blacked Out Media Because He Was Being 'Too Truthful': Aide

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Chicago (AP)- Aides at U.S. Senator Roland Burris' first fundraiser since being appointed by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wore new blue buttons that said "Run Roland Run."

But money raised at the Chicago event will go toward $111,000 in debt accumulated while setting up his Senate office, not a campaign to keep his seat in next year's election, Burris told reporters during the fundraiser Sunday.

Burris, who is under investigation for his testimony to the Illinois House impeachment committee that voted to oust Blagojevich, has not yet decided whether to run.

"It's a matter of my feeling comfortable that I've gotten my Senate legs under me," Burris said.

Tickets to the fundraiser cost as much as $1,000 and Burris' staff said that more than $10,000 had been raised before it began. Aides said 30 people attended, including a handful of Chicago alderman and Burris' family and friends.

"We're going to be very aggressive from this point on," said Delmarie Cobb, Burris' media adviser. "This is the start."

A financial disclosure report Burris filed last week showed he raised only $845 during the first three months of 2009. He said contributions made Sunday would not go toward the $500,000 he owes in legal bills.

The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee and the Sangamon County state's attorney are investigating the 71-year-old Burris for changing his story about the circumstances surrounding his appointment by Blagojevich. The ousted-governor has pleaded not guilty to federal charges including allegations that he plotted to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.

Burris initially said he had not contacted a key Blagojevich adviser about the seat but later released an affidavit saying he had spoken to several advisers, including the governor's brother. And in off-the-cuff comments to reporters during his first listening tour, he acknowledged trying, unsuccessfully, to raise money for Blagojevich.

After that, Burris quit speaking to the media about his legal troubles. The Sunday meeting with reporters was Burris' first in Chicago in two months; he toured southern Illinois earlier this month. Sunday's Chicago event took place in the garage of the building where the fundraiser was held, while drivers parked cars or exited.

"We had to ask him to stop talking because he was trying to be too truthful," Cobb said. "When you try to be truthful sometimes you just keep digging a hole because everything you say to explain the other thing you just said becomes fodder for the media or your detractors."

Burris has said he will cooperate in any investigation.

Burris said Sunday that he was unconcerned about the $1.1 million raised by Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has said he's "exploring" a run next year for U.S. Senate. Cobb said Burris will base a decision to run for Senate next year in part on the success of efforts to rehabilitate his image.

-Associated Press

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