February 17, 2009 6:58 PM
The Senate Ethics Committee has opened an inquiry into seemingly conflicting statements made by Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., who was appointed by disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill President Barack Obama's Illinois Senate seat.
A Senate source compares the preliminary inquiry to a Grand Jury investigation.
The source tells me the Senate Ethics Committee generally opens investigations because "it has reason to believe a violation within the jurisdiction of Committee has occurred."
Even more problematic for Burris, the Republican state attorney in Springfield, Ill., is going to review the case for possible perjury charges.
Back in January, Burris gave a sworn affidavit saying he had no contact with Gov. Blagojevich's staff about this Senate seat. He's now revised that story at least three times.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune Monday, Burris acknowledged for the first time that he sought to raise campaign funds for Blagojevich at the request of the governorís brother at the same time he was making a pitch to be appointed to Obama's Senate.
Today, Burris said he welcomes the Senate investigation and denied any wrongdoing despite acknowledging that he agreed to raise campaign funds for Blagojevich.
"I have nothing to hide ... I welcome the opportunity to go before any and all investigative bodies to answer any questions they have," he said.
"There were never any inappropriate (contacts) between me and anyone else ... and I will answer any and all questions to get that point across to keep my faith with the citizens of Illinois. "
In theory, U.S. Senators in Washington could move to censure Burris or move to expel him.
But that's very unlikely. They'll probably wait to see if any charges are filed against him in Illinois.
However, the real problem now for Burris is political. He is now guaranteed to have a serious primary rival when he runs for the Senate seat in 2010.
He may even face so much pressure that he won't be able to build enough support to run.
One Democratic source put it this way: "He's in deep sh*t."