Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x3 *** This just in… Giannoulias asked Balanoff to talk to Blagojevich about Senate seat - Giannoulias says he “half-jokingly raised the idea” - NBC quotes Balanoff saying remark made “in passing”
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*** UPDATED x3 *** This just in… Giannoulias asked Balanoff to talk to Blagojevich about Senate seat - Giannoulias says he “half-jokingly raised the idea” - NBC quotes Balanoff saying remark made “in passing”

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 2:52 pm - So far, Alexi Giannoulias has said that his only involvement with the US Senate vacancy was setting up a meeting between SEIU President Tom Balanoff and Valerie Jarrett.

But Balanoff testified today that Giannoulias was interested in the appointment as well. From the Sun-Times

“I heard from Blagojevich, he said [Valerie Jarrett] is not interested,” [Balanoff] said he told Giannoulias.

“If the governor called her in the next hour or so if he offered a job would she take it? And he said no. He thought it was a real shame that Blagojevich did not appoint Jarrett.”

Then Giannoulias said this: “In passing he said, maybe he’ll appoint me,” Balanoff said.


[Balanoff] says Alexi Giannoulias, a friend to then President-Elect Barack Obama, asked him to ask Blagojevich about a possible appointment for him.

In a Nov. 24th meeting, Balanoff raises the point.

Blagojevich bristled, he testified.

“That mother f—–, I wouldn’t do s— for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me.”

Expect a Mark Kirk/GOP response in 3… 2… 1…

*** UPDATE 1 - 3:35 pm *** From the Illinois GOP….

…Balanoff’s sworn version of events directly contradicts at least three claims made by Alexi Giannoulias.

December 4, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that Rod Blagojevich’s staff had reached out to him about a possible appointment to the vacant Senate seat.

Giannoulias also said that staff within Blagojevich’s office have “reached out” to him as a possible candidate to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, though a Blagojevich spokesman said the governor has not contacted Giannoulias directly.[2]

December 4, 2008: In the same interview, Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that he was not “pushing for the seat”

Giannoulias said he’s not pushing for the seat, but if it’s offered he’d have to take a “very, very hard look,” at the opportunity to work in Washington D.C. alongside his close friend Obama.[3]

December 12, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias said that he hadn’t “really thought about” Obama’s Senate seat.

Giannoulias, a Democrat, said he’s been busy sorting through the state’s financial woes following Tuesday’s arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“I haven’t really thought about it to be honest with you,” he said during an appearance at Aurora University. “I’ve been focused on trying to do my job and trying to rebuild the public’s trust in us as elected officials.”[4]

*** UPDATE 2 - 4:47 pm *** From the Giannoulias campaign…

“As he has discussed openly, and which was confirmed by today’s testimony, Alexi was a strong advocate for Valerie Jarrett’s appointment to the vacant Senate seat. When Valerie signaled she was no longer a candidate, Alexi half-jokingly raised the idea with his friend Tom Balanoff of being appointed himself, never expecting for the request to be passed along to the former governor. The former governor’s response – an expletive-laced tirade – says all you need to know about the seriousness of this idea and the relationship between the two of them.” - Matt McGrath

*** UPDATE 3 - 5:09 pm *** From NBC’s John Yang

After Jarrett publicly took herself out of contention, Balanoff said he had a conversation with State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a protege and basketball buddy of Obama’s, who is now the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat. Of that conversation, Balanoff said: “In passing he said, ‘Maybe he’ll appoint me.’” [Emphasis added.]


  1. - Tom B. - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 2:58 pm:

    Saying what, something like this? “Blagojevich must mean Mother F*&!@er as a compliment! They were close, we swear! Please, stop looking at us and asking us questions, go talk to him. Look over there, look at the damn shiny object!!!!!!

  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:00 pm:

    Tom, this is about testimony that Giannoulias wanted Balanoff to approach Blagojevich about the Senate seat - something that he did not mention the other day.

  3. - Jechislo - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:06 pm:

    This really makes me want to move out of Illinois. Wyoming is looking nice.

    Anyone that’s not from Chicago, and does not practice these type of politics, is looking like a better candidate all the time.

    Wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear “Senator Kirk” and “Governor Brady” come November.

  4. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:08 pm:

    I am sure the Alexi apologists will say Kirk is embellishing Balanoff’s testimony

  5. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:19 pm:

    Ok, so we’ve just been through the “embellishment, if not misrepresentation” phase (Part 1) of the campaign with one candidate. And the media has had a field day.

    So, now it’s time (Part 2) for “So just what else have you neglected to mention” in the middle of a federal corruption trial with the other candidate.

    This has the potential to get really ugly.

  6. - Bill - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:20 pm:

    ==Wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear “Senator Kirk” and “Governor Brady” come November.==

    LOL! The other day a guy was trying to convince me how much worse off the state would be if Brady won. While I really didn’t think that it would make much difference which cartoon character won, every time Brady opens his mouth he makes me want to vote for someone else, anyone else.
    Brady’s people say that he has to become better known in Chicago and the collars. If he does that just could be his downfall. The less people know him the better chance he has.
    His handlers should send him overseas on a six month fact finding mission.

  7. - bored now - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:20 pm:

    sorry, i don’t see any problem with alexi asking to be considered…

  8. - Tom B. - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:23 pm:

    Rich, you can ask what “in passing” means from Balanoff, but if that is what you consider angling for a senate seat, you have a much lower threshold than most human beings.

    This is a mountain out of a molehill and all you need to prove it is the reaction from Rod.

  9. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:25 pm:

    - bored now - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:20 pm:

    “sorry, i don’t see any problem with alexi asking to be considered…”

    I’m sure he expected Blago to select him based on his nice hair and his hook shot. EVERYONE knows that Blago was in full-out pay-to-play mode, perhaps Alexi was naive.

  10. - bored now - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:27 pm:

    alexi’s new commercial: “Blagojevich bristled:

    “That mother f—–, I wouldn’t do s— for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me.”"

  11. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:29 pm:

    There isn’t a problem with Alexi asking to be considered…

    The ‘problem’ is the first time we hear about it is during testimony.

    So on tonight’s news you get an apologetic Kirk and a ‘new revelations about Alexi comes out at the Blago trial’ story. If he mentioned he tried to approach last week (or a few months ago) this is a non-story.

    Now, he will be asked about it and will either have to admit it. Then have to deal with the ‘why didn’t you mention this’ questions.


    Claim someone in a criminal trial is wrong (making it at least a two day story) and giving fodder to the Rod defense and making it an almost certainty he will get called as a rebuttal witness.

    By saying nothing he has turned this into a bit of a lose/lose for himself.

  12. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:31 pm:

    Or to look at this a different way…

    Since the trial has started would you be more or less likely to vote for Alexi in the Democratic primary if it was held next month?

    Also we don’t know what we haven’t heard yet on the tapes, he changed his mind on JJJ didn’t he?

  13. - Responsa - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:32 pm:

    Well, in a lot of places being appointed to an open seat would be quite a bit cheaper than running and funding a campaign for election. In Illinois with Blago as governor–not so much.

  14. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:37 pm:

    Also you don’t know who else he asked. By not mentioning this he opens up about a billion questions.

    Also if he tries to get ahead of this tonight he provides a really bad contrast to Kirk on the news. If we waits until tomorrow, he is a story on his own.

  15. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 3:58 pm:


    As IL-GOP’s own press release showed Giannoulias indicated interest as of December 2008 so how are we hearing about this for the first time during testimony?

    Yes, the testimony and taped evidence is much more crude and blunt than the news articles IL-GOP references but the two aren’t that different.

    It’s not like Giannoulias was claiming he was Senator of the Year. ;)

    As for the IL-GOP’s release in the first place, bored now beat me to the punch. Blago already answered for them: “That mother f—–, I wouldn’t do s— for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me.”

    That’s as much an endorsement for Giannoulias as “I wasn’t thinking” is an indictment of Kirk’s entire Congressional career…

    Are we going to see “What was he thinking?” 2010?

  16. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:00 pm:

    Good analysis, OneMan. Not good for Alexi, but Kirk’s presser may blunt the impact of Alexi lying to the Tribune (to use the Kirk bashers words).

    One other thing from the Trib quoted above that struck my eye. “Giannoulias, a Democrat, said he’s been busy sorting through the state’s financial woes following Tuesday’s arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.”

    How’d that work out for the past year and a half? Good job, Alexi!

  17. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:04 pm:

    “Alexi Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that Rod Blagojevich’s staff had reached out to him about a possible appointment to the vacant Senate seat.”

    That’s not how I read the testimony.. It wasn’t a ‘Hey lets call that F&!# Alexi’ it was someone contacting them as a ‘reaching out’.

    Again if he said “I made contacts” no story but what he said and was testified are different.

  18. - Louis G. Atsaves - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:18 pm:

    So we are seeing some embellishments or misrememberings from Alexi who wasn’t reaching out even though he was and who claimed that Blagojevich and the gang reached out to him even though they weren’t?

    Ok then. Clear as mud.

  19. - Cindy Lou - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:23 pm:

    Meh, don’t see the big story here. ‘Not really pushing for it’ and ‘Not really thought about it’, is not so much a lie. A lie would have been if he’d said he had never pushed nor inquired nor considered the possible of it. Not exactly what he interviewed.

    I expect Alexi out in front clearing this up in a lot less time than it took Kirk to peek his head out of hiding. It’s a simple play on words, easy enough to sweep away unless of course this guy starts testifying Alexi was begging and obsessed with getting Rod to appoint him.

  20. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:31 pm:

    Louis, “That mother f—–, I wouldn’t do s— for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me.”

    That’s neither an embellishment nor a lie, but it may be bleepin golden.

  21. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:46 pm:

    The quote is golden as long as he doesn’t get called to testify, if that happens….

  22. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:51 pm:

    So now Giannoulais is caught in lies and misinformation over his dealings with Rod Blagojevich and his basketball buddy’s US Senate seat?

    On top of his Broadway Bank situation?

    Mercy. And here his supporters were trying to hype up Kirk’s embellishments as a disqualifier.

    Crow anyone? Piping hot and served Greek-style!

  23. - Cindy Lou - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:54 pm:

    Vman, where is the “lie”?

  24. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 4:54 pm:

    “Alexi half-jokingly raised the idea…”

    Did you really want to say that you think Alexi Giannoulais as a US Senator is a half-joke? You are half-off the correct answer most of us already have regarding that idea.

  25. - Lefty Lefty - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:08 pm:

    Giannoulias said this: “Maybe he’ll appoint me.”

    Blagojevich said this: “That mother f—–, I wouldn’t do s— for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me.”

    That does not sound like a story. It sounds like something that could be made into a story (which appears to be happening here right now), but it isn’t a story that has any legs.


  26. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:11 pm:

    When Balanoff put Alexi out there into testimony, it just became a big deal.

    And Balanoff most likely wouldn’t even have brought Alexi up to Blago on November 24TH if he thought it was just a joke.

    This is one of those areas (a federal political corruption case), four months before an election, where Alexi desperately needs to be someplace else.

  27. - Louis G. Atsaves - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:13 pm:

    . . . and now Giannoulias claims he was “half-joking” about it? So he was telling the press one thing that he really wasn’t pushing for it, was pushing for someone else, and pretending to be courted, and all the while was strongly pressing in a half-joking manner for the appointment for himself at the same time?

    Ok then. Still clear as mud.

  28. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:26 pm:

    VanillaMan, to quote yourself, “This isn’t interesting. This isn’t news.”

  29. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:38 pm:

    I think I like better the half joke about Alexi asking to be a senator rather than the full joke of him being one.

    Gee, he really wasn’t going to ask for himself? Who believed that?

  30. - Quinn T. Sential - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 5:55 pm:


    When you have a chance could you please pass Lynn Sweet a towel so that she can wipe the egg of of her face.

  31. - TJ - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 7:52 pm:

    Is anybody bothered by the fact that Alexi, the person that wants to be our next senator, was announcing to people at fundraisers within a month prior to the Blago arrest that he was going to run for governor? What happened to that political path? Can we say opportunist?

  32. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 29, 10 @ 10:55 pm:

    =Anyone that’s not from Chicago, and does not practice these type of politics, is looking like a better candidate all the time.=

    DC politics being played in IL are much better.

  33. - RFK fan - Wednesday, Jun 30, 10 @ 2:21 am:

    Oh, come on. On what planet is this hurtful to Giannoulias? How many Democratic politicians in Illinois toyed with the idea? Alexi didn’t lie here, and there is no story. Give me a break.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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