Audio recordings from a wiretapped conversation between now-Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) and the brother of impeached Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich were released today by a U.S. District Court in Illinois.
The November 2008 conversation between Burris and Robert Blagojevich – the ex-governor's chief fundraiser – covered Burris' interest in being named to the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama, as well as the possibility of Burris raising or donating money to then-Gov. Blagojevich.
"I know you're calling telling me that you're gonna make me king of the world," Burris says at the beginning of the conversation.
Blagojevich quickly moves the topic of the conversation to campaign donations for his brother and Burris tells him that he's trying to figure out how to help the governor and still be in consideration for the appointment.
Burris: Yeah. Right, right and, and now how do, answer me this question because I'm very much interested in, in trying to replace Obama, okay. Now I…
Blagojevich: So you, let me just tell you Roland….
Blagojevich: …you and one million other people.
Burris: That's right, that's right so…
Blagojevich: Of every race, color, creed and faith, it's amazing.
Burris: So let, it is and so if I put on a fundraiser now…
Blagojevich: Mm hm.
Burris: …and I, you know, I think it would have something…this is what I've been talking to Fred about it, it has so many negative connotations that Burris is trying to buy an appointment…
Burris: …from the governor…
A little later Burris says he's "trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in consideration for an appointment."
"And if I do get appointed that means I bought it," he says.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago released a transcript of the seven-minute conversation in a public court filing, after a judge ruled the recording could be turned over to U.S. Senate ethics investigators. In addition to the Senate review, Burris is also being investigated by an Illinois state's attorney for statements he made under oath relating to the matter.
Tape Contradicts Burris' Earlier Sworn Statement
The recording contradicts an earlier sworn statement by Burris that he never discussed Obama's Senate seat with Blagojevich or any of the then-governor's representatives. Burris later acknowledged the conversation with Blagojevich's brother occurred but insisted it was not inappropriate.
At one point in the discussion, Burris suggests that he might be able to contribute to the campaign directly and maybe also in the name of his attorney.
Burris: I could give him a check.
Burris: And, my law partner we were gonna try and do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright.
Burris: Okay, 'cause Tim is not looking for an appointment, okay.
Throughout the conversation, Burris says he wants to help the governor.
"God knows, number one, I, I wanna help Rod. Number two, I also wanna, you know I hope I get a consideration to get that appointment," he says. The conversation ends with Burris saying he'll "personally do something" for the governor's campaign before December 15th. Then chuckling he says, "tell Rod to keep me in mind for that seat, would ya?"
Outside of his home today, Burris told reporters that he did not raise money for Blagojevich in exchange for his seat.
"I did not give him any money, and I did not raise any money," he said.
Burris' attorney Timothy Wright did not immediately a return call for comment but he told CNN that his client eventually decided against writing the check to Blagojevich's campaign.
Both Blagojevich brothers have pleaded not guilty to charges after an April indictment said the governor and his advisers ran a scheme to make money off of the Senate appointment.