Around the Nation

Around the Nation

Fellow senators investigating the appointment of Roland Burris have interviewed the chamber's majority leader and its majority whip.
Fellow senators investigating the appointment of Roland Burris have interviewed the chamber's majority leader and its majority whip. (By Susan Walsh -- Associated Press)
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reid, Durbin Answer Questions About Burris

In an unusual step, the Senate's top leaders were interviewed yesterday by the chamber's ethics committee in its ongoing investigation of Sen. Roland W. Burris's campaign to win appointment to the seat vacated by President Obama.

Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) met with the committee, in separate 30-minute discussions, to recount their interactions with Burris (D) during his effort to be seated after he was appointed by then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

Neither Reid nor Durbin is accused of wrongdoing, but their testimony could prove critical to discerning the motive behind Burris's alleged misstatements before a state legislative committee in Illinois that conducted the Blagojevich impeachment inquiry.

While Reid declined to comment on the substance of the interview with the ethics committee, Durbin said he also appeared last week before an Illinois prosecutor investigating whether Burris told the truth that he had no contact with Blagojevich or his advisers in relation to political fundraising requests before he was appointed.

Burris has denied any wrongdoing and has resisted all calls for his resignation.

Former Bush Aide Sentenced

A 29-year-old former Bush administration aide was sentenced yesterday to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for stealing nearly $600,000 from a nonprofit group that promotes democracy in Cuba. Felipe E. Sixto of Miami pleaded guilty last year in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia to stealing from a federally funded program. U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton yesterday called the crime an "elaborate scheme" that badly damaged the nonprofit group, the Center for a Free Cuba, where Sixto worked from 2003 through July 2007. He continued stealing from the center after he became an associate director of intergovernmental affairs at the White House, where he worked until last March, prosecutors said.

Army Probes Ala. Deployment

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Army said Wednesday that it has opened an inquiry into whether federal laws were broken when nearly two dozen soldiers were sent to Samson, Ala., after 11 people were killed in a shooting rampage last week. State officials said the deployment of 22 military police officers and the provost marshal from Fort Rucker, Ala., was requested neither by Gov. Bob Riley (R) nor by the White House. Typically, a presidential order is required for soldiers to operate on U.S. soil.

A Boost for Service Programs

Tens of thousands of Americans could see more opportunities to mentor children, help rebuild homes and participate in other national service under a measure passed by the House, 321 to 105. AmeriCorps and other national service programs would be able to expand by 175,000 participants. The measure would also create new groups to help poor communities with education, clean energy, health care and services for veterans. A Senate committee approved an expansion that was similar. The White House has endorsed the bill.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services

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