Why did Roland Burris lie?

On February 5 Roland Burris quietly filed an affidavit to correct the testimony he had provided to the Illinois House impeachment panel on January 8. Rep. James Durkin closely questioned Burris regarding his awareness of a quid pro quo for his Senate seat. His answer was that he was not. Burris’s affidavit reveals that he was solicited for campaign cash (up to $10,000, according to the Sun-Times) by Governor Blagojevich’s brother Robert in connection with Burris’s interest in the seat.

What prompted Burris’s correction of his testimony? The Sun-Times notes that one of Burris’s three conversations with the governor’s brother was likely recorded by the FBI. In an interesting story on Burris’s affidavit, the AP reports that Robert Blagojevich’s attorney states his client believes one of the conversations was recorded by the FBI. Surely the thought must also have occurred to Burris.

The last exchange between Durkin and Burris that is reflected in the transcript posted by the Sun-Times addresses what Burris would have done if he had been aware of a quid pro quo:

REPRESENTATIVE DURKIN: Okay. If you were aware of a quid pro quo, what would you have done? [Discussion about the relevance of the question follows.]


MR. BURRIS: Representative Durkin, knowing my ethics, I would not participate in anybody’s quid pro quo. I’ve been in government for 20 years and never participated in anybody’s quid pro quo.

REPRESENTATIVE DURKIN: I guess the point is would you have gone to the federal authorities if you were aware of that?

MR. BURRIS: I have no response to that.

Did Senator Burris ever “go to federal authorities” after he was asked for campaign cash by the governor’s brother? Senator Burris appears to have done absolutely nothing after he was solicited for the campaign cash except cross his fingers and hope it wouldn’t hurt the possibility of his appointment by the governor. If the true answer to Rep. Durkin’s question is “no,” as it seems to be, the true answer must go a long way to explaining Senator Burris’s original responses to Rep. Durkin’s questions before the impeachment committee.

UPDATE: RealClearPolitics includes Mark Brown’s “Perjury or not, Burris at least shows that he’s a liar” in its lineup this morning. Brown writes that “our new U.S. senator proved himself to be a lying little sneak.”

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