CHICAGO (AP) - A county prosecutor exploring the possibility of
perjury charges against U.S. Sen. Roland Burris has asked federal
officials for FBI tapes of phone conversations between Burris and
ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother, an individual with knowledge
of the case said Friday.
Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt wants to compare
the taped conversations with what Burris said under oath before the
House committee that voted to impeach Blagojevich, said the
individual, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter
could come before a grand jury.
Schmidt's request, first reported in Friday editions of the
Chicago Sun-Times, comes after Burris repeatedly changed his story
about his contact with Blagojevich's friends and aides in advance
of being appointed.
It was not clear whether federal officials would give tapes to
Schmidt, but the U.S. Attorney's office did release four FBI
wiretaps of Blagojevich conversations - edited to delete
information the government considered too sensitive - to state
lawmakers who ultimately removed Blagojevich from office in
A message seeking comment was left for a Burris spokesman
Burris provided the impeachment panel with an affidavit in
January saying he had no contact with anyone close to the
then-governor about the seat until a Blagojevich attorney
approached him about it. Under questioning by the panel, Burris
also said he had spoken with some "friends" and lobbyist Lon
Monk, a former Blagojevich aide.
But a fresh affidavit dated Feb. 4 said that even before the
election, the governor's brother, Robert Blagojevich, asked him to
raise funds. And in one of two phone calls between them after the
election, Burris said he told the brother he couldn't raise funds
for the governor because he was interested in the seat.
At a Feb. 16 appearance in Peoria, Burris told reporters he had
tried to raise money for Blagojevich but had been unable to do so.
Republicans immediately started pressing Schmidt to determine
whether a perjury investigation was warranted. Perjury is an
intentional misstatement of a material fact while under oath.
Burris has said the questions came so fast he didn't have an
adequate chance to answer as fully as he might have before the
Robert Blagojevich is the chairman of the former governor's
campaign fund - Friends of Rod Blagojevich. His attorney, Michael
Ettinger, has said his client called Burris about raising money for
the campaign because he had been a fundraiser for Blagojevich in
Rod Blagojevich, then governor, was arrested by FBI agents Dec.
9 after being charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to
sell the Senate seat and using his powers to squeeze money out of
state contractors and others. He has repeatedly denied violating
Federal officials based their charges partially on wiretaps of
Blagojevich's home phone and the phone at the Friends of
U.S. District Chief Judge James F. Holderman has given
prosecutors until April 7 to obtain an indictment to replace the
complaint, although that could be extended.
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