Senate Democrats are lauding Roland Burris as a faithful public servant who happens to owe his appointment to a crooked governor, but the Illinois politician has some pretty close—perhaps suspect—ties to Blagojevich, the Chicago Tribune reports. Burris and affiliates in his lobbying firm contributed $20,000 to Blagojevich campaigns, he's hosted fundraisers, and the governor's wife was hired in September by a firm with close ties to Burris' lobbying partner, CNN adds.
Burris' firm seems to have benefited from his political clout, too: It received $290,000 in state contracts since 2002, while his clients have earned hundreds of thousands more in public business, along with favorable regulatory rulings. Burris maintains there is "no link" between his private and state dealings. While attorney general, Burris also raised eyebrows by putting his nephew on the public payroll and awarding legal work to a friendly firm.