Roland Burris sets up legal defense fund

Confronted with anticipated legal bills of upwards of $400,000, Sen.

Roland Burris (D-Ill.) is setting up a defense fund to solicit contributions to defray the costs of his struggle to gain his Senate seat, including his defense in ongoing ethics and perjury investigations covering related testimony, a Senate aide said.

Burris applied Monday to the Senate Ethics Committee to establish a legal defense fund, which would allow him to accept contributions for legal fees from individuals of up to $10,000 per donor, the Senate source said.

The application, filed by the Chicago law firm Gonzalez, Saggio & Harlan, where Burris attorney Tim Wright is on staff, indicates the fund would pay legal expenses related to Burris' appointment by ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich; the dispute over his seating in the U.S. Senate; a subsequent Senate ethics investigation; and the perjury investigation that Sangamon County State's Atty. John Schmidt has opened into Burris' statements before the Illinois House impeachment panel, said the Senate aide, who asked not to be identified.

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to allow him to raise money for a legal expense trust fund, according to a report confirmed by The Hill.

Burris, who has faced questions over his ties to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in advance of his selection to fill President Obama's Senate seat, is in hot political water, and though he has not been charged with any wrongdoing, his legal bills are mounting.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported Burris seeking to establish a legal expense fund.