Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Alexi Giannoulias: Not so transparent

Just like that window from the Giannoulias family's Broadway Bank on Chicago's North Side, sometimes what you think is transparent is in fact not something you can easily see through.

Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, 32, is strongly considering a run for the Senate seat currently held by fellow Democrat Roland Burris. Giannoulias, who prior to his election was a senior loan officer at the bank, had never voted in an election until his name was on the ballot, announced yesterday that he won't be accepting campaign donations from corporate political action committees or federal lobbyists.

Big deal. Will Giannoulias forgo donations from union PACs? Or money from his family members, you know, the ones who own Broadway Bank?

About that bank: Almost half of the $7 million Giannoulias raised for his 2006 race came from "the Broadway family."

And this is not just any bank: Broadway loaned millions to convicted mobster Michael "Jaws" Giorango. Giannoulias said in 2006 that he met Jaws, who has prostitution and bookmaking convictions on his résumé, a "few times" and described Giorango as "a very nice person."

Because of Jaws and Giannoulias' pathetic explanations regarding his relationship to the felon, Illinois Democratic Party Chairman, state House Speaker Michael Madigan refused to endorse Giannoulias his after victory the 2006 Democratic primary.

One year later, "The Boy Banker" was forced to testify about a 2002 Broadway Bank loan he approved to 83 year-old Loren Billngs. She ended up getting swindled out of that loan money by three business partners. Billings, who owns the Museum of Holography, could lose the museum and her home.

Billings' family sued Broadway, the bank won the suit.

Giannoulias couldn't remember very much about the Billings loan during his testimony.

Just like he forgot to vote each Election Day before 2006.

This being an Illinois political story, do you think there is a Tony Rezko connection? There sure is! Last year, Nevada officials issued an arrest warrant for Rezko's arrest for writing bad checks at Las Vegas casinos. Those checks were drawn from, you guessed it, Broadway Bank.

In the first half of the decade, Broadway Bank lent millions to the alleged Stratievsky new mayifa family.

Alexi has never given a thorough account of any of these episodes.

Not transparent.

National Republican Senate Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson had this to say about Giannoulias:

If Alexi Giannoulias really wants to provide transparency and accountability in Illinois, he should begin by fully explaining his longstanding connections to the mafia, his family's ties to convicted felon Tony Rezko, and his support for disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich. No amount of supposed "reform" can change Giannoulias' sordid past and shady connections, especially as voters recover from the ethical lapses by his friend Blagojevich and Roland Burris. Voters in Illinois are looking for real change – not empty rhetoric to conceal Giannoulias’ questionable past and lack of ethics.

Closer to home, Illinois Republican Party spokesman Lance Trover adds:

If Mr. Giannoulias wants to kick off his campaign by talking about reform then he should begin by fully explaining why, throughout the last six years, he loaned millions of dollars to mob figures and endorsed Rod Blagojevich for re-election in 2006.

Giannoulias is believed to be Sen. Dick Durbin's choice to become the other half of the Illinois U.S. Senate delegation in 2011. Durbin of course was the first prominent politician to call for a special election to determine Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate--until the Majority Whip figured out a Republican could end up winning. Rod Blagojevich of course appointed Roland Burris to that seat.

Giannoulias accompanied Durbin on trip to Greece last month, giving the treasurer "instant cred" for his expected Senate run. During the flight there and back, and while in Greece, presumably the pair had plenty of time to chat. Did high-and-mighty-and-pure Alexi scold Durbin for taking money from corporate PACs?

Here is a partial listing of corporate PAC money Durbin accepted, courtesy of Open Secrets.

The mainstream issue should be covering the clouds surrounding Giannoulias. It's a story they can really sink their Jaws into.

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El Rider said...

I can see the commercial now:

[Granny-Grifter take 1]

An elderly grandmother walks into a bank with the help of two mobsters and a moll, their criminal records are displayed. The grandmother cannot understand the contracts so the mobsters "help" her, show info on the mobsters relationship with the Broadway Bank. Show the Grandmother's home, just west of Greektown and explain how it was stolen by Alexi and his mobster pals. Show Alexi's answers under oath in court ("I do not remember") over a picture of Sgt. Schultz from Hogan's Heroes. Show the grandmother walking away from the house stolen by Alexi and his mob buddies.

Everybody has elderly family members and we can all relate to the outrageous fraud that Alexi and his mob buddies pulled.

Pop the corks at the victory party.

Another outrageous aspect of this was Alexi's testimony under oath, he claimed to not remember 2 mobsters and an octagenarian taking out a $1 million loan because he was only on the job for a few months at that time. Call me crazy but that is something I would remember for the rest of my life. Does the Broadway Bank do a lot of business with their mob customers?

pathickey said...

I like the Kid.

I helped out on Alexi's camapign for Treasurer. I saw very good qualities Alexi - loyalty, respect for the elderly, self-deprecating humor, humility - in fact, I found AG very similar to another young up and comer - Many Flores. Two good guys, it seems to me.

Alexi's got a huge target on his back placed there by rivals and the realities of politics and Dick Durbin helping him out - I hope that he survives both of those liabilities.

Tom Mannis said...

Excellent post, John. Thanks - it's good info to know.