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The headlines, not the substance, are the real problems here

Monday, Jun 28, 2010

* As we’ve discussed many times before, Rod Blagojevich’s subpoenas of prominent Illinois politicos is most likely much ado about little to nothing.

These subpoenas are partly Blagojevich’s way of exacting revenge on the Democratic establishment. It’s supremely embarrassing, of course, to be dragged into the trial by way of a defense subpoena, and that’s undoubtedly a prime motivation behind these filings.

But what is so often missed by reporters and pundits covering the trial is that if the defense actually follows through on these subpoenas, they will ask the witnesses to say that Blagojevich did nothing illegal in their dealings with him and his staff. That’ll also be quite embarrassing, but the defense isn’t gonna drag in Dick Durbin or the others on their long list to say they saw Blagojevich do something untoward.

Keep that in mind when reading news stories about the latest subpoena target: Alexi Giannoulias. But also keep something else in mind. Headlines like “Blagojevich subpoenas Giannoulias” are quite damaging and will look horrible when placed into TV ads, despite the reality

Giannoulias and Blagojevich were not close; Blagojevich backed a rival in the Democratic primary when Giannoulious ran for treasurer. Giannoulias also called Blagojevich the “anti-Obama” after his 2008 budget address.

And for a guy who has been repeatedly accused of exaggerations and embellishments, this is statement by Mark Kirk’s spokesperson is a bit over the top…

“Today’s news developments further emphasize the troubling pattern that has emerged concerning Alexi Giannoulias. As state treasurer, Giannoulias lost more than $70 million in Bright Start college savings funds and his family’s bank cost the FDIC nearly $400 million in losses. Now we’ve learned Giannoulias’ name has come up on federal wire taps talking about the Illinois Senate seat and he has been subpoenaed in former and disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich’s public corruption trial. This revelation raises additional questions about Alexi Giannoulias that he needs to answer.”

* Meanwhile, Mark Kirk is MIA these days

Last Monday, a group of Chicago reporters chased Illinois GOP Senate nominee Rep. Mark Kirk through a hotel kitchen. They never caught up with him after he left the stage at a public policy Senate forum sponsored by the Metropolitan Planning Council. He did not want to stop to take questions because most of them would probably have been about why he embellished his record as a Navy reserve officer.

The first of several stories about Kirk’s exaggerations on his military and teaching careers broke May 29; Kirk made a few comments at a Memorial Day parade in Arlington Heights. He met on June 3 with the editorial boards of the Sun-Times and Tribune as his campaign was dealing with its first crisis, and that’s been pretty much it. But the issue of Kirk avoiding the press goes deeper than the last few weeks.

Kirk has been ducking routine press coverage since he jumped into the Senate race. He refuses to release, when asked, his government or his political schedules. He also declines to volunteer where he is going to raise campaign cash and who hosts the events.

Kirk has the most stringent and stubborn non-disclosure policy when compared with the three other major Illinois statewide candidates.

Say what you will about Alexi Giannoulias - and you can say a lot - but the same day Broadway Bank was seized by the FDIC, he held a full-blown press conference and answered everybody’s questions. Kirk, on the other hand, has gone completely to ground.

* Related…

* Giannoulias subpoenaed by Blagojevich lawyers

* Senate candidate subpoenaed for Blagojevich trial

* Giannoulias wants no part of Blagojevich circus

* Giannoulias subpoenaed by Blagojevich lawyers

* Five Questions With…LeAlan Jones, Illinois Green Party U.S. Senate Candidate

- Posted by Rich Miller        


25 Comments
  1. - Steve Downstate - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:07 am:

    Kirk still has to do a lot of work introducing himself to downstate voters; most people I run into, even Republicans, don’t have a good handle on his positions or his bio…aside from the credibility problems he’s been experiencing of late. So if you’re the candidate who has to introduce himself and get coverage in local papers, how exactly do you do that without tipping off more aggressive reporters (those working for larger outlets) who are likely to press you on details rather than just write a puff piece about how “people in this part of the state are vital to my campaign and our country’s future”? In the age of the Internet, Twitter, and mobile phone feeds, how exactly do you get around the state to talk yourself up without tipping off the people who are willing and able to shadow you? (I hope that media budgets have not been cut so close to the bone that getting around the entire state is impossible for reporters of larger papers and stations. If so, that would be a loss for all of us.)


  2. - Rob_N - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:08 am:

    When will the Giannoulias camp hit back with Kirk’s donations from Rezko…?

    Speaking of, has Kirk fully explained why he accepted that cash from Rezko?

    If not, why not?


  3. - anon - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:20 am:

    As a veteran and state employee, my observation is that the theme for this election is “incompetence”.

    Kirk, Giannoulias, Brady and Quinn…. they are all liars and incompetent fools.

    Only we taxpayers/voters are the bigger fools for putting any of the four in office.


  4. - shore - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:23 am:

    Mark Kirk does not work for Lynn Sweet or the media, he works for his district-one she has pretty much ignored since Obama got hot. He’s under no obligation to disclose anything. From her own piece it’s pretty clear that what sweet wants to do is destroy him-ask questions about his resume, do investigations into his fundraising. what candidate of either party would hand the media attacks on them?

    Not me.


  5. - Berkeley Bear - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:40 am:

    If people understood that being subpeonaed by the defense means you want nothing to do with the defendant, Kirk wouldn’t try to make an issue of it. It should be a mark of pride that Blago’s defense team is sending out these subpeonas, as it suggests these are the people the Adams think can somehow sway a jury that Blago’s innocent.

    Shore, your defense of Kirk is devoid of sense. He’s a public servant and candidate for public office who is refusing to let the public - private citizens or the media - know where and how he is carrying out those roles. Guess what? That makes his refusal fair game. The solution is, as always, to subject yourself to grilling, take all the questions head on one time, then refuse to answer them if they come up again as old news. That’s how you kill issues - not by lying about them or being evasive in editorial boards and then running away from the press.


  6. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:40 am:

    Boy Shore, when you’re in the tank for a guy, you’re IN THE TANK for the guy. Give me a break. Mark Kirk wants to represent the people of this state in one of the highest offices in the country. If we wants to do so, he absolutely is under an obligation to disclose and respond to media inquiries. He can’t have it both ways.

    As for Alexi, when the Broadway crap hit the fan towards the end of the primary campaign, he routinely ducked the press and snuck out the back door the way Kirk is now doing. It’s cowardly and completely unbecoming and apparently a hallmark of this campaign for both candidates. Just goes to show you our pathetic choices.

    I never thought it was possible, but Mark Kirk’s pathological lying has now made this a tossup race again. I would still put my money on his winning, but Kirk’s self-immolation ability is really quite impressive.

    Blech.


  7. - bdogg - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:50 am:

    there are more than two choices in this race. this country is stuck in this mindset that there are only two choices, democrat or republican. until the two party system is no longer, there will not be real change in this country.


  8. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:55 am:

    - destroy him-ask questions about his resume, do investigations into his fundraising. -

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read from you for a while. So you’re saying that if Kirk answered questions about these things it would destroy him? I guess transperency is only important if you don’t have skeletons in your closet.


  9. - just sayin' - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    Kirk’s campaign looks like it’s in complete disarray. And he can’t get back on his feet because no one believes anything he says anymore.


  10. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    Both Giannoulais and Kirk would do well by disappearing for the rest of the campaign. Kirk seems smart enough to be doing this now, and Giannoulias isn’t smart enough.

    So, there ya go if you were wondering who is the smarter of the two to base your vote on. Kirk.


  11. - Conservative Republican - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 12:17 pm:

    RM, nice covering for Alexi! Keep up the good work!

    ….however, I don’t quite remember the “pro-Obama” Alexi calling for voters NOT to vote for Blagojevich in 2006.


  12. - Capt. Kirk for Senate - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 12:18 pm:

    “Kirk has been ducking routine press coverage since he jumped into the Senate race. He refuses to release, when asked, his government or his political schedules.”

    Doggonit! I’ve told you my schedule a million times: I’m on a five-year mission to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

    http://twitter.com/CaptKirk4Senate


  13. - shore - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 12:36 pm:

    If Kirk’s campaign was in disarray you’d see firings of staff like what happened with team alexi after the primary and you’d see alexi touting polls showing him up double digits with conservatives quoted in stories about how they are sitting on the sidelines this year. I haven’t read those stories so team kirk must not be flailing.

    The congressman does not have an obligation to make lynn sweet’s life easy for her. She has ignored him since he was elected to congress, ignored most of the work he’s done on substantive issues and if you read the piece all she really wants to do is grill him on this resume issue which her edit board has already had a chance to ask him questions on and get information he has no legal obligation to provide her so she can run nasty hit pieces on his fundraising.

    Oh and by the way, how many press conferences has Roland Burris held the last 2 years?


  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 12:38 pm:

    CR, somebody who works for a large law firm ought to be a bit more careful about tossing around insane allegations like that.


  15. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 12:42 pm:

    - Oh and by the way, how many press conferences has Roland Burris held the last 2 years? -

    You’re going to excuse Kirk by comparing him to Burris? Really?


  16. - just sayin' - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 12:44 pm:

    “If Kirk’s campaign was in disarray you’d see firings of staff…..”

    Staff’s not the problem. Staff’s not responsible for the the fact that the boss seems incapable of telling the truth. The only way to fix the Kirk campaign is to fire Kirk. Duh.


  17. - 22 - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 1:08 pm:

    From Chicago’s Coop News (Jim Warren) dated Jan. 31, 2010 (days before the primary):

    “Mr. Giannoulias, 33, has ducked all but the most general questions about which loans he approved that might have contributed to the bank’s trouble. He said there would be time later to get into such details.

    I interpret that to mean: “I hope I can get this past my fellow Democrats. I’ll worry about my Republican opponent later.”

    I trust Jim Warren a whole lot more than Rich on Mr. Giannoulias character, or lack there of.

    The Greeks Blago was referring to? The Giannoulias. Rezko was one of the old man’s best friend, who do you think introduced Obama to them? It’s okay, continue smearing Kirk like the Republicans did to Max Cleland.


  18. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 1:10 pm:

    22, since the primary he’s been quite accessible. That’s a big distinction that you’re ignoring. No surprise.

    The pushback is a little grumpy today. Go figure.


  19. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 1:22 pm:

    == - Oh and by the way, how many press conferences has Roland Burris held the last 2 years? -

    You’re going to excuse Kirk by comparing him to Burris? Really? ==

    Yes using Burris as a metric for anything is a bad idea….

    As for Kirk going to ground. I can see some logic to it but part of me thinks he would be better off dealing with this right now or in early July when less folks are engaged.


  20. - Team Sleep - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 2:20 pm:

    I think Kirk needs to fire some of his staff. Staff can make a huge dent in a campaign - both good and bad - as long as a candidate is willing to listen. Congressman Kirk needs to take some better direction.


  21. - Rob_N - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 3:02 pm:

    22 says, “It’s okay, continue smearing Kirk like the Republicans did to Max Cleland.”

    Dems put out an ad saying Kirk supports Osama bin Laden?!?!!

    When did that happen?

    (/snark)

    22, everything that’s “been done to” Kirk the past month was his own doing. If he hadn’t lied for the past decade there wouldn’t be anything to talk about and he’d be 10pts up.


  22. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 4:04 pm:

    The subpoeana’s lame. Blago wants Alexi to say that he didn’t do anything, which he didn’t, because he wasn’t a player.

    Kirk running through the hotel is weird. He has to answer for that now, too. He’s building up a tension with the media where they’re going to unload on him once he inevitably has to stand still for a while and answer questions.

    Alexi was as dead as the Sox a month ago. Now, all of a sudden….

    Someone is going to win that race.


  23. - Segatari - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 4:42 pm:

    Kirk is still firing off emails. So he’s SOMEWHERE.


  24. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 5:49 pm:

    Obama has been the most inaccesable president on record.


  25. - truthy - Monday, Jun 28, 10 @ 11:14 pm:

    While Alexi G. may not have done anything illegal pertaining to Rod’s sale of the Senate seat, it is curious that he has no recollection of what transpired at the meeting he arranged between Balanoff and Jarret. How convenient!!


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