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Under the bus

Thursday, Apr 13, 2006 - Posted by Rich Miller

Obama expresses reservations about Alexi.

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said Wednesday he is concerned by revelations that the bank owned by Illinois Democratic treasurer nominee Alexi Giannoulias’ family gave loans to a Chicago crime figure and said the candidate owes him and the public a full accounting.

“I’m going to take a look at what’s been going on and I’m going to ask Alexi directly what is happening,” said Obama, an early and enthusiastic backer of the first-time candidate, after a town hall meeting at York High School in Elmhurst.

“I think it is absolutely appropriate for [Giannoulias] to have to explain what exactly the nature of the relationship was, how aware the bank was of some of the illegal activities that this gentleman had engaged in in the past,” he said. “I think that is something that, as his campaign goes forward, he’s got to explain to voters.” […]

“It sounds like they hadn’t fully thought that through,” Obama said. “My recommendation to him will be that he needs to have a thorough press conference in which all of this gets completely aired and all of these questions have to be answered. I think that’s what any elected official owes to the voters.”

I’m wondering whether Obama does any TV ads for Alexi this fall.

My experience dealing with Alexi’s campaign is that they just don’t take these questions seriously because they think, for whatever reason, that they aren’t legit. Well, they can’t ignore or dismiss the questions now.

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  1. - Bill Baar - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 6:52 am:

    Sounds like Obama hadn’t fully thought through his endorsement.

  2. - Petey - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 6:53 am:

    >“It sounds like they hadn’t fully thought that through,”

    The only things that sounds like it wasn’t thought through was Obama’s endorsement of Alexi.

    If I were ‘that greek guy’, I’d be playing that commercial over and over again of ‘that african american guy’ announcing what I great guy I was come October.

    Let Obama answer the questions about Alexi’s character. The media will believe Obama.

  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 7:02 am:

    “I’m going to take a look at what’s been going on and I’m going to ask Alexi directly what is happening,” said Obama

    Yo, B.O. - you should have done that before the primary.

  4. - Mississippi King - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 7:09 am:

    I have a feeling that Obama won’t be doing ads for ALexi in the fall. Usually candidates who drop out don’t run ads.

  5. - Mississippi King - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 7:12 am:

    Imagine if Stroger can no longer serve as board President and Jesse White replaces him and if Giannoulias has to step aside. The dealmaking and politicking with 2 statewide slots to fill would be a joy for all to watch.

  6. - Backyard Conservative - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 7:34 am:

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 8:26 am:

    Prince O is simply upping the expectation for donations from the Gia family bank.

  8. - ron - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 8:40 am:

    obama the candidate everybody loved. he was under no public scrutiny. he was annonted. when you win so easily you are nevere really tested.
    obama the elected official no where to go but down in the poll ratings. once his ratings start to drop, there will be questions from the cynical press of what has gone wrong. his endorsement of alexi without proper vetting of the candidate shows rank amateur political instincts.

  9. - Gregor - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 9:09 am:

    So he lied to Obama. You know, that’s so unexpected of politicians. Obama will just stand off until Alexi G. either clears himself or implodes. It’s a minor little ding in Obama’s armor, everybody makes mistakes. Look at me, I voted for this current so-called governor. But the important thing is to correct the mistake once it’s discovered.

  10. - zatoichi - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 9:26 am:

    I don’t blame Obama. Should he have asked more questions. Sure and he rightfully got hip checked for not doing so. No one plays perfect everytime and you can’t know everything about everybody. Alexi’s group just seems to think it’s cool they got this far. The fraternity has not thought past the beer tab.

  11. - Wow - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 9:29 am:

    Fun to watch Obama squirm on this one.

    He should have just stayed in Washington and kept his nose out of local politics. Obama’s running for President already, why tie yourself down with two losers like Claypool and Alexi?

    Sometimes being “great” means knowing which battles to fight and which ones are worth fighting.

  12. - Chicagograssroots - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 9:43 am:

    All these posters saying O’bama should have asked more questions before endorsing Alexi.

    How would that have worked?

    Alexi: Hi Mr. Obama, my Dad said to give you this check. And, if it wouldn’t be a problem, it sure would be nice if you endorsed me.

    Obama: Sure, Alexi, I’ll support your candidacy. What’s you darkest, most embarassing secret?

    Alexi: Ummm… I took my wife to a sex club.

    Obama: That’s o.k., …but what I really need to know is have you ever loaned money to mobsters?

    Alexi: We have a lot of clients with names that end in vowels — but I wouldn’t call them mobsters.

    Obama: Sorry my faithful cash-rich partisan supporter — I can’t stick my neck out with an endorsement with that skeleton lurking in your closet.

  13. - Levois - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 10:36 am:

    So I suppose it’s too early to tell if Barack Obama is truly the next great Illinois power broker?

  14. - The Playa's Club - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 10:37 am:

    We agree with Petey 6:53am…

    If I were ‘that greek guy’, I’d be playing that commercial over and over again of ‘that african american guy’ announcing what I great guy I was come October.

    Let Obama answer the questions about Alexi’s character. The media will believe Obama. In fact, with Dan Shomon being the consummate pro for the Greek Guy’s camp, he should be able to take care of all of this with one phone call (the power broker he is)…

    Shomon: “Yo Barrack baby! We need a little QPQ love.”

    BO: “Say what?!?”

    Shomon: “QPQ Love…you know, Quid Pro Quo love”

    BO: “Dan, I’m sorry, but there will be absolutely no QPQ Love from me.”

    Shomon: “Barack baby…c’mon”

    BO: “Ain’t happenin Sho”

    Shomon: “Say it ain’t so BO”

    BO: “It ain’t so Sho”

  15. - Catch Your Breath - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 10:52 am:

    I love all of the people who have nothing better to do than look to knock people down.

    This will prove to be a tempest in a teapot. All of the articles even state that there was nothing improper about the loans, and that they passed federal scrutiny, which is much higher than that of the local media.

    The only thing he is guilty of is being an unpolished candidate. There is no question that he needs better staff and more seasoning. But he is at least as qualified as Hynes was to be Comptroller, or Lisa was to be AG when she ran against John Schmidt, maybe the best qualified person ever to run for that office.

    Maybe you all prefer just letting MJM handpick the entire slate from statewides to dogcatcher, but be careful what you ask for.

  16. - Catch Your "Bad" Breath - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 11:03 am:


    “But he is at least as qualified as Hynes was to be Comptroller, or Lisa was to be AG when she ran against John Schmidt, maybe the best qualified person ever to run for that office.”

    What Dan Shomon and the rest of Alexi’s Organization FAIL TO RECOGNIZE is that neither DANNY or LISA were accussed of issuing MILLION $$$ Loans to members of the OUTFIT! ! ! Nor were their immediate relative’s or respective law firms accused of issuing loans to PIMPS & BOOKIES! ! !

    This is SERIOUS STUFF for the STATEWIDE SLATE which is one of the reason’s why MJM DID NOT WANT Alexi’s Organization on the DEM TICKET. This NEGATIVE publicity in the FALL may have serious consequences for other races in terms of both (D) voter turnout and Party Perception…Governor’s race, Sec of State, State Senate races & House races…some serious decisions are going to have to be made soon.

  17. - anonymous - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 11:05 am:

    I think this is just a shame. I know this is what some consider an open dialogue. I think its a damn shame how our so called “democratic” process works. Politicians going after Politicians. What ever happened to running a good, clean, grassroots campaign. That is what’s wrong with our society. I can’t wait till Alexi holds his press conference and clears this situation up. My opinion… this issue was misconstrued. Alexi’s lack of experience dealing with the media is what blew this situation way out of proportion. Let’s see what happens when the matter is cleared up.. Then what.. we will find another elected official to go after.

  18. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 11:17 am:

    Honestly, I only see this damaging Obama if Alexi and his family had a ring like this across the country. The Washington Post, NY Times, the WSJ and LA Times will only look to take Obama down if this has farther-reaching implications that Chicago. Why would the Post care about some banking scandal in Illinois when the Jack Abramoff scandal, the Libby trial and the midterm election buzz all dominate the news?

  19. - anonymous - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 11:23 am:

    Oh.. and let’s not rip on Shomon. He’s a good man. If were going to pass blame and rip on anyone for what happens next… the NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES as (Catch Your “Bad” Breath - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 11:03 am) posted… my vote for goes to MJM.

  20. - Fouts - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 11:49 am:

    I can see the headlines already. “DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEE TALKS ALEXIG INTO REMOVING HIMSELF FROM THE TICKET” Then it gets interesting. Jesse White replaces Stroger on the Cook County ticket. Dan Hynes replaces JW on the ticket for SOS. A downstater OR Meeks will be the Comptroller. Meeks will be out of the picture as a third party candidate who seriously could affect many races in November. How does that sound MJM?

  21. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 12:15 pm:

    Banks loan money against collateral and securitization of repayment, not based on your quality as a person. It’s a bank, not This is not ‘SERIOUS STUFF’. As far as the Danny and Lisa comparison, I read that as a comment about qualifications, which neither had, yet they both have done very well in their offices.

    And the reason MJM didn’t want Alexi was because Alexi wasn’t ‘his guy’. If he was, your head would spin at how DPI would be working to bury this as the non-issue it is. To him, this is about power, not policy.

  22. - Anon - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 12:39 pm:

    Fouts 11:49 am, I disagree. MJM would never go for that. Meeks is Blago’s problem not Lisa’s. Why reward Meeks and save Blago’s tail when it would only serve to hurt your daughter political aspirations in the long run? Alexi will hire some former Trib reporter to help him through this. It will work and there is no way he would step down. If Alexi did step down, they should put in a downstater to balance the ticket.

  23. - Wow - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 1:11 pm:

    If it was such a tempest in a teapot, why didn’t Obama just say that?

    Clearly, he’s trying to distance himself from his Greek Tycoon.

    Jesse, Jr. on the other hand, is foursquare behind his man…he better be. He’s just about the only winner Jr. had on election day.

  24. - Just Observing - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 1:13 pm:

    Meeks isn’t interested in simply a statewide office — I’m not really sure if he wants Gov — he has other motives — whatever they may be.

  25. - Little Egypt - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 2:19 pm:

    I didn’t vote for Alexi in the primary and won’t in the general. I think our Treasurer needs to have a little more experience than a name his daddy has given him.

  26. - SenorAnon - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 2:38 pm:

    “I think our Treasurer needs to have a little more experience than a name his daddy has given him.”

    I’m George W. Bush. And I disapprove that message.

  27. - Lisa - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 3:07 pm:

    Me too

  28. - Dan - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 3:08 pm:

    Me too

  29. - It's a Wonderful Life - Thursday, Apr 13, 06 @ 6:40 pm:

    Alexi is a nice and at least in person superficially humble guy.

    At 29, after 4 years of college, 3 years of law school (both out of state in Boston and New Orleans respectfully) and later to play Basketball in Greece, he could not have mathematically had much experience at all in the Banking business, moreover he could not have worked in College because he was in school out of state and played basketabll. I am not saying he is not talented and could not live up to the task many young people, sons of rich and important people, and political people have done well or at least not screwed up offices–Dan Hynes and Lisa Madigan (who secret is out when they first ran were not qualified but have done well since) as two examples. Alexi seems intelligent and he could do well, his campaign does not necessarily reflect that though. Alexi does not have a lot of banking let alone life experience, that is just mathematically correct. He has not even been in Illinois for that long after school and his basketball career in Greece.

    The Bank is known as a Cuthroat Bank, not a happy community oriented bank, the Greeks circled the wagons for one of their own but in reality did not have a lot of love behind the scenes because of high risk loans, foreclosures, taking over businesses etc. The dad was the cuthroat not Alexi to be fair but also that means that Alexi had little experience in running the bank.

    In terms of lending money to mobsters and cruise ships connected to killings and Abramoff, it is an issue but the link to Alexi himself is tenous.
    They have a bank, lets start looking into loans Citibank gave to people, some of it is issues of collateral and no laws were broken. However, the problem is that neither Alexi nor his campaign have been completely forthcoming and there are important questions for Alexi as a public elected official not so much as a private banker but about his associations and if he would replicate this as the State’s banker.

    The rumor is there is more dirt on the Bank.

    The other problem is that many people still do not give Alexi the gravitas to win a statewide office his primary win nothwitstanding.

  30. - anon - Friday, Apr 14, 06 @ 12:35 am:

    to Wow, lets revist the jackson primary scorecard…jackson endorsed and played a role in alexi, cummingham, shore who all won over endorsed democratic machine candidates. can anyone else black, white latino state that claim in ONE primary city, county or state wide? better stop reading sneed for election results.

  31. - Todayistheday - Friday, Apr 14, 06 @ 7:48 am:

    Its Wonderful Day,

    Great post. I agree Alexi has the personality and natural leadership to be successful in politics. However, he does need more experience. The fact that he hasn’t come out to defend himself tells me that he is hiding more than what we have already found out. There has been some posts written about the inexperience of his staff, its obvious they don’t know what they are doing and from what I heard they are having some difficulty getting organized. As a Dem, I really hope someone will step up and send some help to this campaign, Alexi is a quality person–but he needs a much better staff to make him a quality politician.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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