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The Miami connection

Friday, Aug 13, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As I see it, this is a very serious problem for Alexi Giannoulias

Don Wade asked Giannoulias a direct question: “Did you lend any money to anybody who was controlling a nationwide prostitution ring?” Giannoulias answered “No.”

But that answer, as is so often the case here, is only partially true. Giannoulias’ family bank loaned money to Michael Giorango to buy the Lorraine Hotel in Miami. Giorango was busted for promoting (not controlling) that prostitution ring out of the very same hotel. And Giannoulias himself flew to Miami to “inspect” that hotel, and only admitted it after the 2006 Democratic primary when he defeated a Mike Madigan-backed candidate. From an April 27, 2006 story

Democratic state treasurer nominee Alexi Giannoulias said Wednesday he was “embarrassed” by earlier remarks he made regarding millions of dollars in loans his family’s bank gave to a convicted felon, and he tried anew to explain a relationship that has cast a shadow over his campaign.

Giannoulias, the senior loan officer and vice president of his family’s Broadway Bank, previously described convicted bookmaker and prostitution ring promoter Michael Giorango as “a very nice person” and dismissed his relationship with Giorango as someone he had met at the bank “a few” times.

But on Wednesday, Giannoulias said he traveled to Miami “about a year or two ago” to inspect property the bank had financed for Giorango and met with him there. Giannoulias declined to provide details of that meeting.

“Giannoulias declined to provide details of that meeting.” Classic.

This is what Giannoulias said before the 2006 primary

But Giannoulias said that since he became a full-time senior loan officer, he has met Giorango at the bank “a few” times.

He described Giorango as “a very nice person” and questioned whether Giorango actually was a criminal. “Is he a crime figure?” Giannoulias asked. “I don’t know what the charges are that makes him this huge crime figure.”

Nicknamed “Jaws,” Giorango pleaded guilty in 1989 to helping direct a south suburban bookmaking ring that used threats of bombings, beatings and robbery to collect unpaid debts. Then in 1991, he was convicted of additional gambling and tax violations stemming from his role in a separate bookmaking operation overseen by Chicago Heights gambling boss Dominic Barbaro.

In 2004, federal prosecutors convicted him of promoting the Circuit, a nationwide prostitution ring, by encouraging Miami madam Judy Krueger to have prostitutes work from one of his hotels and by using the women to entertain and entice his business associates.

This is the way it usually is with Giannoulias. Wait until after the next election to clear things up and then clear those “misstatements” up after the following election. He said he was a major player at Broadway Bank before the 2006 primary. Now, he says he was a minor player. He didn’t know Giorango before the 2006 primary, afterwards he admitted he knew him and even hung out with the guy in Miami.

He has said that if he and the bank had known about the dark history of Giorango that they wouldn’t have given him the loans. But his brother has said the bank knew at least some of what was going on and went ahead with the loans anyway.

The Miami trip is the closest connection that we know Giannoulias had to a criminal. Most of the other stuff hurled against him isn’t directly traceable to Giannoulias and is way overblown. But that Miami trip is direct. Now, it may turn out to be nothing at all, but Mark Kirk is right to press this issue.


  1. - stones - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    Since when do banks send people out to “inspect” properties esp in venues located 1500 miles away? Alexi has some serious explaining to do.

  2. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 11:59 am:

    Good reporting here, Rich. This lends some credibility to the Mob Banker theme. Can’t wait to see Alexi supporters spin this into the “Kirk’s a liar” meme.

    The Kirk ads write themselves…

  3. - CircularFiringSquad - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:00 pm:

    IL has been around the block on this stuff really nothing new here. If we spent as much time on CommandoMakeItUp we know there would be more stuff to click our tongues with that guy

    Look, look, look boys and girls. Put away your trivial pursuits and try to report BEFORE the bleeping election for once before letting the Commando stroll in.

  4. - Homesick - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:02 pm:

    Cincinnatus, the ads for both candidates have been writing themselves…

  5. - bored now - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:04 pm:

    Cincinnatus: well, kirk *is* a liar. which is why he needs the people who hired rod blagojevich to make the case. personally, if i were mark kirk, i wouldn’t want to have anything to do with rod blagojevich or the people who employed him. people will start comparing kirk with blago. but, hey, we all know that kirk isn’t the brightest bulb, so, whatever.

    i can’t wait to see what politifact does with this one. betcha we find out kirk’s “exaggerating” again…

  6. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:07 pm:

    bore now,

    “i can’t wait to see what politifact does with this one. betcha we find out kirk’s “exaggerating” again…”

    According to the audio clip, Kirk has nothing to do with this. And Kirk is not mentioned as a player in these charges anywhere in this blog post.

    Airball, buddy…

  7. - phocion - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:07 pm:

    Really? Like this?

    “Kirk embellished his record to impress voters.”

    “Giannoulias lied to the public about visiting a hotel/bordello in Florida with a mobster he did business with.”

    This is not going to end well for Alexi.

  8. - Demoralized - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:13 pm:

    I never paid much attention to Giannoulias before it was forced on me during this Senate election. So, my question is - either the media failed horribly at its job in vetting this candidate when he ran for Treasurer or everyone knew and didn’t care. Which is it?

  9. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:16 pm:




  10. - WOW - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:21 pm:

    So at the top of the ticket we have:
    Mark Kirk - Liar
    Alexi G. - Liar
    Pat Quinn - Not too swift
    Bill Brady - Not too swift
    Sheila Simon - Plays Banjo
    Jason Plummer - WHO?

    I agree with you Rich, where have all our leaders gone?

  11. - Demoralized - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:22 pm:


    That’s what I figured. I wonder if a study has ever been done to see if Illinois has a higher percentage of brain-damaged people than is normal?

  12. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:27 pm:

    I’d say it was something in the Chicago water, but Simon is from downstate…

  13. - Wumpus - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:30 pm:

    Both are liars. Kirk embelisshed his military record
    Alexi embellished his banking experience and lied about his banks criminal ties.

    Both are bad,Which is worse?

  14. - dupage dan - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    For those folk who still plan to vote for Alexi even after this info has been revealed, what do you expect to see happen if he wins?

  15. - VanillaMan - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:34 pm:

    So are we saying now that Giannoulais was an accidental mob banker? He was a kid who just ambled along within his family bank, hooking up with whoever did business with the family bank, living large?

    What kind of resume is this for public office, other than “I’m the cute kid from a rich family and we’d like a career in politics, please”?

    Alexi Giannoulais is the current Illinois State Treasurer. That’s not nothing. Problem is, he has been in office for less than one single term until he decides he wants to be one of the 100 in Congress. Giannoulais is trying to sink a basketball from the team’s starting bench instead of waiting for his chance to really play ball!

    What is happening to him currently wouldn’t be happening if he decided to run for re-election. His past wouldn’t be in the spotlight like it is today. He would have gotten a free pass to develop a string of accomplishments from which to shield him from these kinds of attacks had he waited.

    Giannoulias’ problem, as I see it, is his poor timing for this race. He hasn’t a base from which to point towards when questioned, he hasn’t a personal history from which to run a statewide campaign during the worse economic news since the Great Depression, and he gets no slack because this is simply a bad year for Democrats.

    So get ready Congressman Kirk for more slime attacks from desperate Democrats! Now is the time to disappear and be seen working hard in Washington. You have this thing won now.

  16. - Vole - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:39 pm:

    Obvious problem here for the G man. G is having himself a real Bill Clinton moment.

    Do the parties do any vetting of candidates anymore or did they ever? Or is it a system of whoever can put up the campaign dollars? Our two political parties sure do a lousy job considering how easy it is for them to hold their joint monopoly on power. Mutual protection league = race to the bottom. They aren’t crying for competitors!

  17. - OneMan - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:40 pm:

    I will take misled about a military award vs I mislead over lending to guys with serious charges against them any day of the week.

  18. - Leave a Light on George - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:48 pm:

    Remind me again why Obama is raising money for this guy.

  19. - Indeedy - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 12:53 pm:

    Does that gaggle of north lakefront politicos still rent their offices from Michael Giorango?

  20. - Vole - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 1:16 pm:

    “Remind me again why Obama is raising money for this guy.”

    Because they are not raising money for Lisa Madigan, their first choice. That is the tell of it.

  21. - bored now - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 1:39 pm:

    Cincinnatus: ok, we add politifact to the list of things you know nothing about. since you appear to be another one of those “the facts aren’t important” republicans, this ad is listed on MarkKirkNews’s Channel: Mark Kirk for Senate. don’t have a clue why you thought otherwise. (i know, i know, the cult of saint kirk made you do it.)

    Demoralized: michael madigan spent millions of dollars to make sure that the democratic electorate knew of these accusations in 2006. and still, alexi beat the machine.

    but the combine still lives! if democrats and republicans can just join together making these accusations, maybe, just maybe, the illinois machine will be resurrected!

    VanillaMan: nope, we’re saying that the federal government encourages banks to get crime families into the system. the answer i received in 2006 was that there wasn’t a bank in the country that hadn’t made similar loans. that’s how we get these guys!

    somehow, it’s ok to lie to the american people about weapons of mass destruction in iraq to justify an elective war that kills american soldiers, but it’s wrong to follow the u.s. government’s instructions on loaning money to people with mob ties.

    but, then, voters *are* stupid. that’s an observation, not a dare…

  22. - Loop Lady - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 1:48 pm:

    This race to the bottom between these two liars proves my point in my previous post…

    Where is the none of the above choice on the ballot for this office?

  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 1:56 pm:

    ===Where is the none of the above choice on the ballot for this office? ===

    Green, Libertarian, Constitution parties.

  24. - Amber - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 1:57 pm:

    Rich, the articles that Demetris Giannoulias mentions are still online. “4 officials plan to leave felon’s Broadway building”: and “Gold Coast Madam still pointing finger”:

    I find it especially interesting that Jan Schakowsky, Alexi’s biggest supporter, thought Giorango’s past was bad enough that she stopped renting office space from him. I wonder what she thinks of Alexi’s history with Giorango”

  25. - InParis - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 1:57 pm:

    Senior loan officers in a bank usually sit in on loan committee meetings, or participate in a manaagement loan committee meeting prior to getting to a directors loan committee. He had to know every detail about what was going on.

  26. - Honest Abe - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 2:02 pm:

    The Broadway Bank story is what it is. What should also be discussed in greater detail is the lousy job that Alexi did during his term as state treasurer. The Treasurer’s office is in a mess and Alexi wants to be promoted while his successor will have to clean up an inherited crisis.

  27. - Robert - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 2:31 pm:

    @dupage dan, if I vote for Alexi, it will be because I’m still a fan of Obama and would view Alexi as a likely vote on the side of Obama’s policies, that would be it. I don’t see anything redeeming about Alexi. I was solidly in Kirk’s corner until his lies about his military service.

  28. - phocion - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 2:45 pm:

    Bored now, you should really refrain from ad hominem attacks against those with whom you disagree. It diminishes everything you say. You may also want to stick to the topic, which I don’t believe is about the decision to go to war in Iraq.

    Robert, most would have a hard time believing that if you’re willing to vote for Alexi because he will support Obama’s policies, that you ever were “solidly in Kirk’s corner.”

    Just sayin’, fellas.

  29. - dupage dan - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 2:46 pm:


    How you could vote for Alexi after the most recent revelations is amazing considering you say you would have voted for Kirk but for his lies. A comparison of the transgressions leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth about both but AG is a man without a moral center and unlimited ambition. How could you vote for someone like that? Did you vote to re-elect RB? If so, that explains alot. If not, why start voting for that ilk now?

  30. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 3:07 pm:

    I have a dirty mind. Does anyone wonder what Alexi’s “inspection” really was?

    Politifact ain’t what it once was. They even realized it and launched an effort in late 2009 to try to rectify what many considered its liberal bias. But your comment now makes clear that you use only others like Politifact to do your thinking and very little of your own brain. Again, I point you to the audio clip where the interviewer says it was not Kirk, but the local Chicago rags that he was using. I guess in your mind, if Kirk has an ad that coincidentally has a corresponding a newspaper story, it’s Kirk’s fault somehow.

    I had stopped using Mob Banker to describe Alexi. I was wrong to do so.

    Robert, Obama already has Durbin running interference for him in the Senate. Look back to the Clinton era. It was prosperous, and if Clinton would have kept it in his pants, he would have gone down (so to speak) as a much better President in the history books. Split government seems to work, and would probably improve Obama’s lackluster performance to date.

    dupage dan,

    bored now is incapable of having a discussion where he/she doesn’t inject invective and hate. I believe it clouds his ability to make a valid point, or to even take his good points seriously.

  31. - VanillaMan - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 4:00 pm:

    bored now is incapable of having a discussion where he/she doesn’t inject invective and hate. I believe it clouds his ability to make a valid point, or to even take his good points seriously.

    When I see how the polls are going, I hope bored now is going to be OK and not go utterly bat-S!$h crazy on us like I see other liberals in other places. See your world rocked when you know as much as bored now must be so aggravating.

    We’re rooting for your mental health buddy!

  32. - bored now - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 4:05 pm:

    VanillaMan: i don’t give up until election day. until then, i am all in…

  33. - Team Sleep - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 4:25 pm:

    Senator Radogno tried to make people aware of Alexi’s actions in 2006. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the money and went against the tide in a bad Republican year. Now, Alexi is going up against a formidable foe with deep pockets and the full-blown support of the RNC Victory Program and the NRSC. This will be looped again and again. Mark Kirk’s buys will be so large that they will drown out anything Alexi does.

  34. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 4:37 pm:

    - bored now - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 4:05 pm:

    “VanillaMan: i don’t give up until election day. until then, i am all in…”

    BWHAHAHA. I have a fresh perspective on you, bored now. Nothing personal from me from here on out, at least not intentionally. Looking forward to doing battle until November.

  35. - BH - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 4:57 pm:

    Thank you Rich.

    I’ve commented on Alexi’s relationship with Michael numerous times. BTW, it will get worse. In the past, Alexi gave four different answers about whether he had ever met Jaws, whether he knew of him, whether he flew down to Miami to meet him about a hotel deal, etc.

    He’s either lying or incredibly stupid. Pick your poision.

    Alexi the politican, said a week before the primary for US Senate: no big deal, I’ll talk it (Jaws or the collapse of Broadway or the mismanagement of Bright Start, etc) about after the election. Again, I’ve mentioned I am a very loyal Democrat. Unless Kirk says he was responsible for 9/11, he’s got my vote.

    For people like you know who, it’s okay to support Alexi because you believe he’ll be a rubber stamper for the President, whom I voted for and will vote for again in 2012. But that’s the ONLY reason anyone with any morality can give to pull the lever for Alexi. But the President isn’t always right unless you believe Nixon logic.

    Kirk is an embellisher, a serial embellisher, possibly a liar. How could you not say the same exact thing about Alexi? In 2006, I’m a banker. After the New and Improved Great REcession, I’m not a banker. In 2009, I saved Bright Start money to well we didn’t lose all of it. Embellish. Embellish. Lie?

    Kirk is a very smart guy, probably too smart for his own good. If he didn’t embellish/lie (and again morally, look to Blumenthal in Conn. if you’re going to kill Kirk here do the same there), it’s not a race. Dan Hynes on line 1.

    But this is Alexi. He will do anything, take any shortcut to get ahead. With Quinn losing badly, with David Hoffman sitting on his behind, we Democrats (you know who I am talking to) are our worst enemies.

    Have a great weekend!

  36. - VanillaMan - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 4:57 pm:

    VanillaMan: i don’t give up until election day. until then, i am all in…

    I used to be like that. I gave up sometime after Dukakis in 1988. Then Perot. I just don’t get my hopes up anymore.

    My gut is saying you are going to lose it all. Keep your boxers on. I didn’t. Sunburn hurts down there.

  37. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 6:46 pm:

    What on earth is the bank VP/Sr. loan officer/Alexi doing “inspecting” the property himself? Wouldn’t he hire a local apprasier for that? This doesn’t add up….

  38. - Luke - Friday, Aug 13, 10 @ 8:31 pm:

    More information on Broadway Bank and the Mob is coming. Alexi is going to have to answer why a community bank makes loans several states away from the community? Did Alexi bet with Giorango? Did Alexi’s dad have a bad gambling problem? Did Alexi’s dad play in a poker game?

  39. - wordslinger - Saturday, Aug 14, 10 @ 10:51 am:

    This sure ain’t a Percy-Simon race, is it? Not even a Fitzgerald/Mosely-Braun.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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