The [Thursday] Papers
By Steve Rhodes
BREAKING 11:30 A.M.: Ald. Isaac Carothers to be charged in corruption case today.
Roland Burris has reportedly signed a deal to write his memoirs. I wonder if it's a multi-book deal, because he's told so many versions of how he got his Senate seat that they could fill volumes.
Just yesterday his story changed several times as the day went on.
At first he insisted the taped phone call between him and Rob Blagojevich that was released yesterday showed that he had been entirely consistent to his previous accounts.
"Read affidavit 1!" he implored reporters.
He had to specify because Affidavit 1 was so at odds with Affidavit 2, which was so at odds with his testimony before the state House impeachment panel.
By the end of the day, Burris was claiming his talk of contributing to Rod Blagojevich was just placating Rob.
He didn't mention that in the morning.
He told reporters he had always supported the governor and contributed money to his campaign.
Asked how much he had planned to give, he said $1,000.
So any notion of placating came about only hours later.
Burris's spokesperson, Delmarie Cobb, is also a piece of work.
She told Fox Chicago News last night that Burris didn't mention his conversation with Rob Blagojevich to the House panel because they were only looking for information about Rod Blagojevich.
And if Burris offered the governor anything.
Which was a slip on Cobb's part because Burris is clearly trying to offer something - anything within his means that he won't get caught looking bad by doing - in the taped conversation with the governor's brother.
Fox anchor Jeff Goldblatt admirably pressed Cobb by pointing out that Burris was asked if he had had any conversations with anyone in the Blagojevich administration or anyone close to the governor. Robert Blagojevich was not only the governor's brother at the time but led his campaign committee.
Cobb tried to claim once again that the impeachment panel questioning went in another direction after the initial question, but that line of defense has already been demolished.
"It only went in one direction!" Goldblatt said.
Cobb also had the audacity to claim that "Rob Blagojevich had nothing to sell, and Roland Burris had nothing to give. So there is no pay to play."
Burris may have had nothing to give because he was broke, but Rob Blagojevich most certainly had something to sell. The evidence so far is clear that Rob was working the pay-to-play scheme on his brother's behalf.
On CLTV's Garrard McClendon Live, N'Digo publisher Hermene Hartman claimed, quite unbelievably, that Burris didn't offer the governor anything and the governor didn't ask for anything.
I'm not sure Hartman quite saw the irony when she compared the Burris appointment to President Obama's appointment of major fundraiser Lou Susman to the ambassadorship of the U.K.
For the last eight years Democrats have complained about Republicans handing out ambassadorships, and other appointments, to fundraisers.
It's okay when Obama does it?
Besides that, a U.S. Senate seat is an elected office. What makes the Burris case different than other distasteful political rewards is that this was a rare appointment to an elected office - an office that shouldn't be auctioned off.
While watching Larry Yellen interview Burris later on Fox Chicago, I was struck by a very simple notion when Burris described how he was supposedly trying to help the governor while not appearing to buy the Senate seat. He simply could have said "I cannot participate in any fundraising activities while I am under consideration for the Senate seat."
The only reason why he wouldn't say that was if the thought it would hurt his chances of getting the job. Which meant he was trying to go along with the scheme while pretending he wasn't.
On ABC7, I saw the report of how Burris was now saying he never intended to write a check to Blagojevich. He was lying.
So now he's an admitted liar.
But again, if we accept that explanation, that means he was aware that he was expected to pony up some dough if he wanted to remain in contention for the seat. And he went along with it, even if he was just pretending.
And what was he going to do, get the appointment and then never write Blagojevich the check?
Burris also repeatedly claimed that once he hung up the phone he said, to himself apparently, "I can't even do that."
Meaning he couldn't even write the governor a small check. Or have his lawyer write the check - illegally - to hide his identity as the true donor.
Of course, there was no wire to capture Burris's sudden post-conversation realization.
And it was a realization that was short-lived.
Burris told reporters in February that he tried to put on a fundraiser for Blagojevich but was unable to find any donors.
Meanwhile, Rob Blagojevich's lawyer, Michael Ettinger, said "I'm just happy with how my client acted. It showed who he is."
Yes. The tape showed Rob Blagojevich to be a cool customer. He rarely said anything but "Yeah" while Burris tied himself in knots.
The Real Housewives of Chicago
But here's the thing (in the city that our mayor says leads by example):
"Last week, [Brennan] told the Sun-Times Editorial Board that she had gotten nowhere in her push for a clear anti-patronage hiring policy. She also renewed her complaint that the city has yet to punish employees whose names came up in patronage trials."
Is the Sun-Times allowed to capitalize Editorial Board when the total number of its members can fit in a sub-compact? That meeting with Brennan might have just given them enough folks to play bridge.
People's Gas Redux
Chicago Goes Tabloid
Pols Block Sunshine
The Beachwood Tip Line: No exemptions.
Posted on May 28, 2009
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