CHICAGO – A group of black ministers who previously supported U.S. Sen. Roland Burris now plan to ask for his resignation, one of the ministers told The Associated Press on Thursday. Many of the city's influential black pastors supported Burris because of his scandal-free reputation — even though he was appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich after the governor was arrested.
But, prompted by revelations Burris attempted to raise money for Blagojevich while seeking the Senate job vacated by President Barack Obama, some of those pastors will ask Burris to resign, according to the minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a meeting with Burris had not yet been scheduled.
Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell the Senate appointment.
Sentiment in the black community is not unanimous, but the clergy's silence as the maelstrom of criticism swells around Burris "speaks volumes," said another minister, Ira Acree, of the Greater St. John Bible Church.
"I'm a little disturbed, but because of his track record, don't want to rush to judgment," Acree said Thursday. "But neither will I attempt to defend his actions."
Burris spokesman Jim O'Connor would not say whether the senator would meet with the ministers, and referred to Burris' previous pleas that fellow politicians and constituents alike "stop the rush to judgment."
Burris is accused of lying to an Illinois House committee in January when he testified that he hadn't had contact with key Blagojevich staffers or offered anything in return for the seat.
Last weekend, Burris released an affidavit saying he had spoken to several Blagojevich advisers, including Robert Blagojevich, the former governor's brother and finance chairman, who Burris said called three times last fall asking for fundraising help. This week, Burris admitted trying, unsuccessfully, to raise money for Blagojevich.
So far, Burris has resisted a growing chorus of calls for his resignation, including from within his own party.
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