A judge in Chicago has approved the release of a federal wiretap of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother speaking by phone with Democrat Roland Burris. The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee, which is investigating Burris, will be able to review the tape.
The conversation took place before the impeached Illinois governor named Burris to the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.
U.S. District Chief Judge James Holderman approved the release of the tape Tuesday at the Ethics Committee's request. Read the full transcript of the conversation between Burris and Rob Blagojevich.
Burris testified before the Blagojevich impeachment committee that he didn't promise Blagojevich anything in return for the seat. However, Burris lawyer told the Sun-Times that the tapes will reveal something else -- that Burris promised to write a check to the Blagojevich campaign by Mid-December, although he never followed through.
“Sen. Burris, as he said, decided he couldn’t send a check because it wouldn’t look good,” Wright told the Sun-Times.
Burris has been under intense scrutiny because of the circumstances of his appointment by the disgraced former governor and for changing his story multiple times about whether he promised anything in exchange for.
The Senate Ethics Committee has begun a preliminary investigation. The Sangamon County State's Attorney is determining whether perjury charges are warranted.
The material consists of a conversation between Burris and the impeached governor's brother, businessman Robert Blagojevich, who headed the Friends of Rod Blagojevich campaign fund.
Rod Blagojevich is charged with scheming to trade or sell the seat and using the political muscle of his office to squeeze people for campaign money. Robert Blagojevich is under indictment along with his brother and a number of other members of the ousted governor's inner circle.
Both Blagojevichs have denied any wrongdoing.
A political consultant for Burris didn't seem fazed by the tape's release.
"We welcome the (release of the) tape," said Delmarie Cobb.
Cobb said making the tape public will show that Burris did not offer to raise money for the scandal-plagued ex-governor, and that he did not change his story regarding his efforts to be appointed to the Senate.
Burris' lawyer, Timothy Wright, agreed.
"The truth is coming out. We think it helps to vindicate the senator," Wright said, according to Trib reporter Jeff Coen.