As Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, wrote, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
How many people are now wondering if that statement applies to Alexi Giannoulias and his assertion that he was not involved with making a $20 million loan from his family's failed Broadway Bank to a company partially owned by convicted real estate investor and political influencer Tony Rezko?
Over the past few days, after the story broke in the Sun-Times, Team Giannoulias responded that he had nothing to do with making that particular loan, since the loan was made in February 2006, and he had been on a leave of absence from Broadway Bank since September 2005 in order to make a run for State Treasurer:
"Alexi left daily operations of the bank in September of 2005, months before this loan was made," says Kathleen Strand of his campaign staff. "He had no knowledge of it, and his name is not on any documents related to the loan.
Oh, okay then. Well, then it turns out that holes in that cover story were pretty obvious.
First, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Mark Kirk's team noted that: As late as December 20, 2005, Alexi Giannoulias told reporters that he was still vice president and senior loan officer at Broadway Bank. “Giannoulias noted that he currently serves as vice president and senior loan officer at the four-branch Broadway Bank in Chicago.” (State Journal-Register, “Senator announces run for treasurer,” 12/20/05)
Team Kirk also pointed out that: The Chicago Tribune reported that Alexi Giannoulias received a $41,000 salary from Broadway Bank in 2006.
After that, your very own Team America did a little digging this past Monday, and found out that Giannoulias had been interviewed as late as March 2006, and he was still contending that he was employed at the bank:
Windy City Times: What's your biggest advantage and your biggest disadvantage?
Alexi Giannoulias: That's easy. My biggest advantage is that this is a fiscal office and I'm a banker and a financial manager. The state treasurer is responsible for investing $12 billion—and you want someone who's [ invested ] before. My opponent may be a nice guy, but he's more qualified to be an attorney general.
My parents founded Broadway Bank; over the past four years, we've more than doubled in asset size. I'm senior loan officer and vice president, so I oversee a $600 million loan department. I'm also chief investment officer and invest about $150 million.
Rich Miller at Capitol Fax picked up on this ("Which Giannoulias do we believe?") the next day and questioned the Giannoulias campaign about it, as all of the above statements from Alexi sure sounded like they were in the present tense (as of March 2006, after the latest Rezko loan had closed). And what about that $41,000 that was paid to Alexi in 2006? Didn't that salary show he was still working at the bank?
Team Giannoulias responded to Miller:
It was a passing reference to his position at the bank. He didn’t resign or quit. He took leave and if he lost his election he would have resumed his job at the bank.
In comments, Miller explained that the campaign claims it was a PAID leave, so THAT'S why he shows a bank salary for 2006 on his income statements.
So, let's get this straight: Team Giannoulias claims that Alexi was on PAID LEAVE from Broadway Bank, doing no work for months (exactly when he went on this "leave" we don't know for certain, and Team Giannoulias claims they have no records because the bank was taken over by the feds), even though this seems directly contradictory to his several statements that he was STILL the bank's senior loan officer. So, Alexi gets paid a handsome salary (for no work) for months, while out campaigning for a political job, and then the bank fails? Swell.
Am I the only one who thinks this story doesn't smell right? Alexi is a millionaire. Why did he need to continue to draw a salary from the bank while he was campaigning (can I get a gig like that?) Why would the bank management agree to this (oh, yes, the bank president was his brother. How convenient).
Obviously, it wasn't Alexi's ghost payroll salary alone that sunk the bank. Risky loans and other mismanagement did that. But it sure don't add up to a good track record for a guy who campaigned on his financial management skills and experience.
And guess what? Now that Alexi has firmly painted himself into a corner on this story, all it will take is one piece of evidence that Alexi was still acting as senior loan officer at the bank any time from September 2005 on, to crater his entire campaign.