Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Obama's state treasurer pal needs a memory upgrade

Chicagoan Alexi Giannoulias managed to get himself on the Democratic primary ballot for Illinois state treasurer last year, even though he was 29 at the time. A downstate man was slated by the state party--party chairman Michael Madigan wanted geographic balance on the ticket--and since 2003, all of the state constitutional offices had been held by Cook County residents.

Giannoulias' family owns Broadway Bank on Chicago's North Side, and a year ago was the senior loan officer there. The bank has been a generous contributor to political campaigns--including Barack Obama's 2004 run for the Senate.

Being slated by a major party in Illinois, whether Democratic of Republican, is tantamount to victory in a primary--for better or worse that's the way it is here. But the boy-banker had an ace up his sleeve, newly-elected Senator Barack Obama, who not only endorsed Giannoulias in the 2006 primary, but appeared in one of Alexi's television commercials. That "rock star" endorsement was enough to propel Giannoulias to an overwhelming victory over his Democratic opponent.

After the primary, it was revealed that Giannoulias oversaw $11.9 million in loans to a firm run by Demitri Stavropoulos and alleged mobster Michael "Jaws" Giorango. "Jaws" has a bookmaking and promoting prostitution conviction on his résumé.

Madigan, who is also the Speaker of the Illinois House, refused to endorse Obama's boy in the general election, but he won anyway. So did fellow Democrat Rod Blagovevich--which doesn't say much for Illinois voters. Now there is a move to amend the state constitution to allow recall elections--just so "Blago" can be tossed out.

Back to Giannoulias: I remember listening to a WBBM-AM candidates' forum a few months before the fall election. Giannoulias' mantra, repeated several times during the broadcast, was "We need a banker as state treasurer...We need a banker....We need...blah...blah...blah"

Well, our banker was on a witness stand this morning, testifying about his role in a 2002 $1 million loan to an 83 year-old Loren Billings, also of Chicago.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Giannoulias was a loan officer at his family's Broadway Bank when he agreed to give the loan to Loren Billings, who once ran the city’s Museum of Holography. She had applied for the loan with co-signers who had a history of fraud.

Her family says that, within 24 hours of Giannoulias cutting Billings a check, more than half of it was made out to a firm associated with the co-signers, GnXpert Neural Technologies.

Under questioning before Cook County Judge Sophia Hall, Giannoulias repeatedly said "I don’t recall" or "I just don’t remember" details of the loan transaction because it was so long ago.

Giannoulias was repeatedly asked whether it was "prudent" to give a loan — with a $9,845 monthly payment due — to a woman with a monthly income reported on loan documents to be around $10,000. Finally, attorney Peter King asked Hall to order Giannoulias to answer.

Naturally, Giannoulias was accused of evading questions and playing a "game" during his testimony.

But at least we have a banker investing the funds of the nation's fifth largest state, even if his memory isn't so good.

Thank you, Senator Obama, for your "new kind of politics," even though you once said you didn't want to be a "kingmaker."

Thanks for the link: Backyard Conservative

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