Published June 04, 2009
Black members of Congress who used racially charged language earlier this year in pressing Senate Democratic leaders to seat Roland Burris now mostly are keeping silent as the Illinois senator fights to save his political career.
The ethics committee and a state prosecutor are investigating whether Burris lied under oath when he did not reveal to Illinois lawmakers what an FBI tape confirmed: That he had discussed raising money for disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his desire for Barack Obama's seat in the same conversation with Blagojevich's brother.
At the time, Blagojevich was under investigation by federal authorities on suspicion of corruption, including trying to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.
FOX News contacted numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but only one spoke up.
"I have not spoken with any of the (caucus) members lately about what their position is, if they have a position," said Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill.
Rep. Bobby Rush, who was the most outspoken lawmaker in his support for seating Burris despite Democrats' concerns, declined to comment. His office said the Illinois lawmaker won't have anything to say on the subject until the fall.
But when Blagojevich appointed Burris, Rush was quick to pull the race card and dared Democratic leaders to turn away the man who would be the only black member of the Senate.
"I will ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer," he said at the time.
The Black Caucus voted unanimously to call on the Senate to seat Burris immediately. Democratic leaders remained skeptical, so Rush turned up the heat, suggesting any reluctance amounted to racism.
"I think there's no other explanation but that they think they are above the law and although they might not be termed racist, their actions is racist."
That left Democratic leaders squirming. Against their better judgment, they relented and seated Burris, only to recently hear FBI wiretaps in which Burris offers to raise money for the governor moments before angling for the Senate seat.
Now Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders appear to be suffering buyer's remorse over allowing Burris to fill Obama's vacant Senate seat.
"I told Blagojevich in no uncertain terms that he shouldn't appoint anyone, but he did," Reid said this week.
FOX News' Jim Angle contributed to this report.