Illinois Sen. Roland Burris came out today to announce that the recently released FBI transcript of a phone call he had with the brother of fallen Gov. Rod Blagojevich–in which Burris offered to raise money for the governor through his lawyer to hide his tracks while begging for U.S. Senate appointment–should “set the record straight and should settle this issue once and for all.”
In the transcript, Burris jokes that Gov. Blagojevich is “gonna make me king of the world,” by appointing him to the Senate. He then says he wants to raise money for the governor, in the middle of a discussion about his potential appointment, though he also worries about the political fallout. “It has so many negative connotations that Burris is trying to buy an appointment,” Burris explains to the governor’s brother, Rob Blagojevich.
In the end, Burris did not raise any money for Blagojevich after the phone call, nor did he convince his lawyer to raise any money for Blagojevich. But he did discuss the two ideas–raising money for Burris and getting the appointment–in the same sentence, certainly inferring a clear connection between the two acts. “God knows number one, I, I wanna help Rod. Number two, I also wanna, you know hope I get a consideration to get that appointment,” he said. In the transcript, Burris also makes clear that the donors he might recruit to raise money for the governor would have a clear impression of its purpose. “If I don’t get appointed then my people who I’m trying to raise money from are gonna look at me, yeah, what, what’s that all about Roland,” he said.
This is the transcript, in other words, of an ugly business. Burris seems more concerned about his own ambitions and the potential press fallout than the ugliness. And this will be his legacy. It is largely settled. Burris may not have broken the law in the end, but such consolations will do little to exonerate him.