A four-month investigation by the Sangamon County state’s attorney’s office has found insufficient evidence to charge U.S. Sen. Roland Burris with perjury. Burris, D-Ill., was under investigation for possible perjury for his January testimony before the Illinois House impeachment committee.


Read the letter from Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt to House Speaker Michael Madigan

Read the letter from Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt to House Speaker Michael Madigan


A four-month investigation by the Sangamon County state’s attorney’s office has found insufficient evidence to charge U.S. Sen. Roland Burris with perjury.


Burris, D-Ill., was under investigation for possible perjury for his January testimony before the Illinois House impeachment committee.


Sangamon County state’s attorney John Schmidt said some of Burris’ statements were vague, “but vague statements cannot support a perjury charge.”


“Moreover, an individual does not commit perjury if he corrects the known falsity before the adjournment of the tribunal,” Schmidt said in a letter delivered Friday to House Speaker Michael Madigan explaining the reasons behind his decision.


Burris issued a statement about the development, saying: "This matter has now been fully investigated; I cooperated at every phase of the process, and as I have said from the beginning, I have never engaged in any pay-to-play, never perjured myself, and came to this seat in an honest and legal way. Today’s announcement confirms all that.“


During testimony before the House impeachment committee on Jan. 8, Burris didn’t reveal several contacts with members of the inner circle of then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who appointed Burris to the Senate. Burris later filed a document with the committee naming others he talked with, including Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, who at the time was chief fund-raiser for the governor.


Burris, who was interviewed by prosecutors at the Sangamon County Complex earlier this week, has said he was truthful in his testimony and only answered questions he was directly asked.


Schmidt said that beginning with the Democratic National Convention and through the November presidential election, Burris “told anyone he thought had the attention of Gov. Blagojevich that he was interested in the senate seat. These one-on-one conversations were brief and were characterized by the individuals he spoke to as not memorable and in passing,” Schmidt said in the letter.


Schmidt and first assistant state’s attorney John Milhiser interviewed numerous individuals — some in Chicago and in Washington, D.C. — and reviewed many documents and transcripts of testimony and phone calls during the course of the probe.


After his January testimony, Burris said his own review of what was said made him realize he hadn’t told the committee about other discussions he had, and in a Feb. 4 affidavit, he wrote that he did get three calls from Rob Blagojevich seeking fund-raising help and that he had spoken to then-chief of staff John Harris about the senate appointment at a fund-raiser.


He said he had run into Blagojevich associates John Wyma and Doug Scofield, and that he probably asked one or both about the Senate seat.


“These were not substantive discussions concerning how to get the appointment, but rather Sen. Burris imploring the listener to tell Gov. Blagojevich he was interested,” Schmidt wrote to Madigan.


Burris is also the subject of a Senate ethics committee investigation.


Chris Dettro can be reached at chris.dettro@sj-r.com.