Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"Obama's candidate" Giannoulias needs to explain alleged mob ties, says state house speaker

Alexi Giannoulias was an unknown candidate for state treasurer until US Senator Barack Obama agreed not only to endorse "Mr. G.," but "St. Barack" went further than that by appearing in a Giannoulias television commercial. Alexi went on to thrash the state party's endorsed candidate. However, the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, Michael Madigan, refuses to back "Obama's candidate."

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

But Giannoulias, 30, became engulfed in controversy. The Chicago Tribune published articles about millions of dollars his family-owned bank loaned to two convicted felons and an alleged money-launderer.

Broadway Bank is not accused of anything illegal, but it has been a political embarrassment for Giannoulias, who first called one of the men a "very nice person," then later said he had been too "cavalier."

The bombshell from Madigan recalls his cryptic comments in 2002 about never-explained "indiscretions" of then-Democratic gubernatorial nominee Rod Blagojevich. This time, Madigan is being more pointed.

"I mean my history in politics, if you were alleged to be connected to the mob, you were done, but life seems to go on," he said.

The Sun-Times article is by Carol Marin, who somehow leaves out Obama's role in getting "Mr. G." onto the fall ballot. Obama hasn't backed off from his endorsement of Giannoulias, but said in April:

What I have said is that it is important that all this information come out in a clear, straightforward way and that the voters of Illinois know exactly what was taking place.

But why did Obama endorse Giannoulias? Obama said Mr. G. did a lot of work for his 2004 senate campaign, and prior to that, Obama used to play basketball with the young banker. Giannoulias describes Obama as "a mentor." I'm not claiming Obama had any knowledge of the loans in question, but maybe, maybe, Obama's judgement isn't perfect.

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