Prosecutor Says Sen. Burris Will Not Face Perjury Charge

By Perry Bacon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 19, 2009 4:46 PM

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) will not be charged with perjury for statements he made about the circumstances of his appointment earlier this year to replace President Obama in the Senate.

Sangamon County prosecutor John Schmidt said in a statement that Burris's testimony to a special committee of the Illinois House of Representatives in January was "incomplete" but constituted "insufficient evidence" to pursue a perjury charge.

Some Democrats in both Illinois and Washington have sharply criticized Burris for the testimony in which he explained his appointment by then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) but did not tell investigators of his discussions with Blagojevich's brother Robert about how Burris could help raise money for the governor. The Illinois panel was questioning Burris as part of its investigation of Rod Blagojevich, who had been arrested Dec. 8 on corruption charges that included allegations of trying to sell the seat vacated by President Obama. He was later impeached by the state legislature.

Burris submitted an affidavit weeks after his testimony saying he had talked with Robert Blagojevich, leading Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and others to accuse him of giving misleading testimony initially. Durbin has said Burris should resign.

Prosecutors last month released an FBI recording of a conversation between Rob Blagojevich and Burris in which the pair discussed Burris's desire to be appointed to the Senate seat and potential fundraising. But Burris has denied any participation in a pay-for-play scheme, and he never donated money to Blagojevich after the phone call.

Burris praised the prosecutor's decision.

"This matter has now been fully investigated," Burris said. "I cooperated at every phase of the process, and as I have said from the beginning, I have never engaged in any pay-to-play, never perjured myself, and came to this seat in an honest and legal way. Today's announcement confirms all that."

The Senate Ethics Committee is still looking into the circumstances of Burris' appointment but has not yet said what exactly it is investigating or when it will reach any kind of resolution.

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