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Alexi makes a bad situation worse

Friday, Jan 29, 2010

* Alexi Giannoulias has apparently never heard the phrase “Go to ground.” Granted, the Democratic US Senate candidate did the right thing by holding a press conference yesterday to discuss his family bank’s troubles, but he wasn’t prepared for at least one line of questioning and the AP got him but good

Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias refused to provide details Thursday about whether his decisions contributed to his family bank’s financial problems, saying five days before the election that those questions can wait for another time.

“If I’m fortunate enough to make it out of the primary, we can have that conversation,” the Chicago Democrat told reporters.

His campaign tried some damage control after the fact

After the news conference, a spokeswoman clarified that Giannoulias doesn’t know which loans may have contributed to the bank’s problems because he hasn’t been involved in the bank’s day-to-day operations since he left.

He could’ve said that during the event. Why he didn’t is anyone’s guess.

David Hoffman is doing his best to tie the news into his campaign theme….

“The reason that this Broadway Bank story and revelation is of such significance now is because it goes to the heart of matters of job performance and character,” Senate candidate David Hoffman said at a news conference.

Actually, tying it to his theme isn’t hard at all. The big question about Hoffman is whether he is spending enough money to get himself over the top. Right now, I’m not so sure.

And while certainly true, this line of reasoning at the Chicago Sun-Times was more than a little silly

“If you go to a large bank like the Bank of America or the Northern Trust, you will find not hundreds but thousands of people with felonies or misdemeanors in their past but who make their loan payments on time,” Giannoulias earlier told the Sun-Times editorial board. Those banks also gave loans to convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, he said.

Giannoulias also wouldn’t say whether his family would put money back into the bank to help recapitalize the institution. Sheesh.

* Meanwhile, the Tribune editorial board restates its endorsement of David Hoffman

Partial headlines are superimposed over images of one of Giannoulias’ opponents as a narrator clucks about negative campaigning. The Tribune masthead flashes once, then again, and again and again. That’s fair game. The campaign is citing Tribune news stories.

But just in case you saw the ad and thought it meant the Tribune editorial board was in love with this guy and frowning on his opponent, let’s be clear: The Tribune has endorsed David Hoffman in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 11:49 am:

    Let’s also be clear, the Tribune Corporation, currently bankrupt, just sought and received permission to hand out $45 million in bonuses to the very top managers who led them into bankruptcy. AFTER laying off scores of reporters to cut costs.

    I’d love for the Sun-Times to ask Hoffman what he thinks of that decision, and whether its good for our economy.

  2. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    YDD — The Trib isn’t running for jack…

    Also it makes sense to do that at some level to keep some of the people you need around. Companies do the same thing after takeovers..

  3. - E Pluribus - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    Anyone remember 2000? Bush had a three point lead in the polls when his DUI arrest came out the Friday before the election. It got absolute blanket coverage coast to coast for 72 hours and he only lost the popular vote by a hair.

    This is a more complex issue, it is not a blockbuster (as the bank has been an issue since 2006), and he still has a double-digit lead. Top it off with the fact that if it causes Alexi to lose votes, they won’t all go to one of his four opponents.

    So far it is second or third page news at best. No one reads Saturday papers, so it had better be the banner headline in every Sunday paper if anyone else is going to have a chance.

  4. - Publius - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:03 pm:

    Indignant, self-important Tribune. Big surprise.

  5. - Ridiculous - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:08 pm:

    Can’t wait for the buyer’s remorse.

  6. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:17 pm:

    Aren’t big-time campaigns, like running for U.S. Senate from a large state, supposed to do oppo research on their own candidate? The purpose of this research is so that if a negative story starts the campaign knows how to blunt the damage.

  7. - shore - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:25 pm:

    1)since when do illinois democrats care their people are corrupt?

    2)hoffman is a great candidate-for the republican side. senate intel, rehnquist, corruption fighter, republican us attorney appointee. It would be like if a world food program and civil rights attorney ran for the gop nomination.

  8. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:29 pm:

    In an era of banks in trouble-it really doesn’t resonate with voters that Alexi’s bank is in trouble. He would have to tie Alexi directly to some type of corruption and needs a tremendous amount of money to do it.

    I hate to sound shallow, but the ladies in my life seem to like Giannoulias. I also think he will run strong in the black community. He has charismatic appeal and that is tough to beat.

  9. - cassandra - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:38 pm:

    An interesting quandary for Alexi’s very wealthy family.

    Plough a ton of cash into a not-that-healthy bank and hope it works, and this goes away for Alexi, assuming he wins, in the general.

    Allow outside investors, if they can find them, and give up substantive control. Finding these investors–very iffy, especially as they have to pass the smell test. No mobsters, etc.

    Dont do anything with the understanding that Alexi’s shot at the Senate could be seriously compromised if the bank fails.

    Alexi’s future as a US Senator vs. investing tons o dough they may never see again.

    Family or money?

    A soap opera.

  10. - Am I Missing Something - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:39 pm:

    I’ve read excuses that the bank is in trouble because of bad loans, bad economy, etc. What about the $70 or $84 million, whichever story you read, in dividends the family, including Alexi, gave themselves when they saw bad times ahead. Seems like either greed or look out for the family vs the bank patrons.

  11. - Responsa - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:39 pm:

    So, the G family took 86 million out of the bank and now needs to put 50 million back in, or come up with other funding to appease the Feds. They have less than 3 months to do it. Alexi’s argument that all banks are in trouble sounds arrogant and hollow when it is common knowledge that SO much money was removed from the bank by the family as the economy was faltering and loans were failing.

    If the family bank is not recapitalized it will go into receivership and the depositors who are FDIC insured will be made whole–on the taxpayers’ dime. Our dime. Just lovely.

    How much is the G family willing to “sacrifice” to try to save scion Alexi’s electoral chances is the big question. Wonder how the rest of the G family feels about it.

    Cheryle is right. Alexi should withdraw from this primary. He should ride out this storm in the boathouse and then if he is so inclined, run again for a lesser office once he’s older, wiser, and not in so much poo poo.

  12. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:56 pm:

    “If you go to a large bank like the Bank of America or the Northern Trust, you will find not hundreds but thousands of people with felonies or misdemeanors in their past but who make their loan payments on time,” Giannoulias earlier told the Sun-Times editorial board. Those banks also gave loans to convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, he said.

    He has to be kidding! What a poor answer!

    What kind of candidate gets surprised by a situation like this? It is his family’s bank! They’ve been in the spotlight before during his earlier campaign. What? He just didn’t think that anything happening at Broadway Bank was going to come up? Does he even speak to his family enough to keep up to date? I saw his mom in his ads, is anyone looking out for him and his political career, or did they think their kid had this thing sewed up and whatever happened wasn’t going to hurt?

    Giannoulais is either being willfully blind to a major political stumbling block, or is unable to be honest with his answers.

    This is not the kind of candidate the Democrats should be pinning their hopes of success on.

    Hoffman is the guy this time. Alexi was a cute one-termer, who got too big for his day job.

    Giannoulais is just not ready for prime time.

  13. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:57 pm:

    If I read the FDIC stories correctly, they want the bank shareholders to pay $19 million or more into the bank, and get more funding in general up to either $70 million to $90 million. The bank right now is 100% Giannoulias family owned.

    Cassandra seems to have the best take on this. Family or money? Can they get new shareholders? What will those new shareholders say when they get a gander at the bank books? This thing is turning into a real soap opera and the Giannoulias campaign seems to be having a hard time dealing with it.

  14. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 12:58 pm:

    P.S: That $70 million the family pulled out of the bank sure looms large in this soap opera tale.

  15. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:00 pm:

    “Now, if you can’t trust a fix, what can you trust?”

    a line from Johnny Caspar from the film Miller’s Crossing

  16. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:01 pm:

    Sorry, wrong thread.

  17. - South Side - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:21 pm:

    Alexi Giannoulias’ campaign is on a downward spiral into oblivion and is going to crash a burn on election day. His resume shows his utter incompetence and sheer lack of trustworthiness.

    “If I’m fortunate enough to make it out of the primary, we can have that conversation.”
    -Alexi Giannoulias

    How dare he attempt and put this off till after the primary. Alexi is out of touch with reality. He has shown his complete and total ignorance and is in this race solely for person gain. If he had any ounce of dignity or respect for the people of Illinois, he would drop out of the race.

    If he wins the primary, he will be smoked by the GOP and rightly so. I shutter at the thought of voting for Kirk, but the fact of the matter is that if this clown wins the primary Illinois will be the next Massachusetts.

  18. - DM - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:21 pm:

    While IG for Chicago, Hoffman often called in favors from the US Attorney’s office Pat Collins, Pat Fitz, to get wire taps, subpeonas (like the Pension plan refusal to give records on Daley’s nephew loan to him, he got the US Attorney to subpeona the records) and circumvent the legal process.

    As someone intimately familiar with Cease & Desist Orders, I submit that someone with political motivations managed the (timing) release of this information. It is 30 - 60 days before any publication of most bank’s decree. Why only 24 hours for this one?? Hoffman is an outsider - my donkey!

  19. - siriusly - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:26 pm:

    I thought the Tribune’s “re-ensorsement” was shocking, but maybe they just felt like Alexi’s TV ads were using their masthead inappropriately.

    For me the issue isn’t whether or not the G family puts money back into the back. The issue is this: you can’t tout your banking experience as a qualification for office but at the same time say that you don’t know what was happening at the bank.

  20. - siriusly - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:28 pm:

    I also agree with Rich. As much as I’d like Hoffman to win, I am still not sure if his tv ads are going to be enough this late in the game. Clearly there is a large pct of undecided voters.

    I still think Alexi is the favorite however I could see a scenario where “fed up” voters have higher turn out rates and anyone who feels incumbent-like doesn’t do well on Tuesday.

  21. - Brennan - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:38 pm:

    Alexi has said he has no control over his shares in the bank. Why doesn’t he just stick with that story?

    It’s pretty rich that Alexi has to haul around that ball and chain and Mike Madigan turns out the Amen caucus to cover for him.

  22. - Responsa - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:44 pm:

    Yes, siriusly. Hoffman does have to make his own case with the undecideds. But the investigative reporters in this town also have a job to do with the Giannoulias banking story both as it relates to business ethics AND the Giannoulias candidacy. That is not asking too much. The media needs to put this story in the TV headlines and on the front pages this weekend. With a few notable exceptions reporters have been either MIA or very timid and superficial in their journalistic efforts to cover this story, IMO.

  23. - Doug - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 1:46 pm:

    This just proves that Alexi in literally UNELECTABLE in a general against Kirk. He will get slammed on this. Illinois will become a further laughing stock…

  24. - LaurenA - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 2:27 pm: IS about your resume Alexi!
    He continues to hide and mislead. He is clearly immature and inexperienced to lead. Move over Alexi….it is Hoffman’s victory to have and hold…all the way through the general.

  25. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 3:23 pm:

    –As someone intimately familiar with Cease & Desist Orders, I submit that someone with political motivations managed the (timing) release of this information.–

    It’s the FDIC. Who do you suspect? Johnny Roselli? Officer Tippit?

  26. - One Hand Clapping - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 4:20 pm:

    Giannoulias’ damage control effort is as pathetic as his original statement. He sure doesn’t get it.

    E Pluribus — You’re right about the Sunday papers, but the other reason the Bush story was a non-starter is that, at one time or another, most people have (stupidly) gotten behind the wheel of a car after being over-served. That made it easy in 2000 to identify with Bush.

    By contrast, most people weren’t Sr. VP of loans for their family’s bank.

    Giannoulias may be easy on the eyes for the women in P.J.W.’s life, but the women I know don’t see him as the BMOC so much as the sleazy guy who’s trying to lie his way into bed with them.

    Rich is right though, Hoffman hasn’t spent nearly enough $$$ to get his message out.

  27. - DM - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 5:14 pm:

    Hoffman is saving his money.
    He had no intention of winning this race.
    He is laying the groundwork for a run for Mayor in 2011.
    A good showing in this race will pay dividends in 2011. In fact losing will help him because he can say he lost to the “insiders” and having a campaign infrastructure in place, as well as a Rolodex of contributors (besides his daddy’s trust fund) will be invaluable when he runs against Mayor Daley in 2011.

  28. - Who Else Goes Down - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 5:19 pm:

    DM- I agree. I’ve been saying that since the start.

  29. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 5:54 pm:

    Yeah, losing is a great strategy for future success.

  30. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 6:02 pm:

    Hey, it worked for Dan Seals.

    Oh… Wait.

  31. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 6:06 pm:


    You’re on crack dude. First off, if Hoffman had control of timing, he sure as hell wouldn’t have had this story break on the same day as the state of the Union. From a political perspective, it needed to come out at least a week earlier for it to have done maximum damage.

    Second, how is using his relationships with the US Attorney’s office to BETTER DO HIS JOB somehow something you want to hold against him.

    Finally, I promise you. Hoffman will not run against Mayor Daley. That’s just silly. You must not know much about Chicago if you think anyone would contribute to a candidate who would run against Daley in a primary by accusing him of being corrupt. Ain’t gonna happen. And without the money, there’s no campaign.

  32. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 6:07 pm:

    CC, tone it down, please.

  33. - georger - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 6:43 pm:

    As a voter, I’m looking for honesty, integrity and transparency in a candidate. Alexi appears to specialize in obfuscation, half truths and just plain omissions. Why did he persist in giving unrecoverable loans to Tony Rezko, a convicted felon? Why did he participate in a distribution of bank funds which would require the FDIC (the taxpayers) to reimburse depositors? Why is he hiding the details of how much more money could have been recovered for investors in the Bright Start College Savings Fund if he acted promptly to withdraw all funds from Oppenheimer instead of waiting many months before pulling the plug? So, Alexi, those are my questions; the answers are needed before it’s too late!

  34. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 6:45 pm:

    georger, c’mon, you’re not just a voter. ;)

  35. - DM - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 7:50 pm:

    Hoffman may catch lighting in a bottle, like Carol Mosely Braun and Barack Obama, both of whom ran for the Senate with an eye for being Mayor and accidentally won.

  36. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Jan 29, 10 @ 10:23 pm:

    I withdraw my crack comment as a flip remark. The rest, I stand behind.

  37. - Hisgirlfriday - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 4:11 am:

    This is bad for Alexi and in disclosure I’m voting for Hoffman on Tuesday, but Cheryle’s claiming Alexi should drop out of the race over this is a bit rich. Maybe saying something that outrageous was all she could to do get her name out of the last paragraph of the story with the other also-rans, but still…

  38. - DM - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 5:57 am:

    Yes, it appears that “georger” definitely has a dog in the fight. He is peppering all over the cyber universe the Hoffman talking points.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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