Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias Meet in First Debate: The "Extent" of Alexi's Knowledge of His Mobster Clients an Issue (UPDATED)

This morning, Congressman Mark Kirk and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias met for their first big debate on Meet the Press. You can read the Tribune blog and Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet's coverage if you missed it on TV.

So far, the most damaging thing I've heard come out of the debate was the startling utterance by Alexi Giannoulias that he did not know the "extent" to which some of his bank's clients were criminals... so, what, Alexi, being a LITTLE bit of a criminal is OK, but at some point, these guys crossed the line? When, exactly was that?

Currently, Team Kirk is blasting out e-mails left and right citing quotes and sources to show that Alexi and family had quite a bit of knowledge about the character of their clientele. Here's one:

Didn’t Know the Extent? Give Us a Break

During an appearance today on Meet the Press, Alexi Giannoulias was asked whether he knew about the criminal backgrounds of mobsters who received loans from Broadway Bank when Giannoulias was the Senior Loan Officer. Giannoulias said he didn’t know the extent of their criminal activities.

Didn’t Know the Extent?

FACT: The Chicago Tribune reported on April 1, 2010, the Giannoulias family was made aware of Giorango’s past when they read about in the Chicago Tribune in 2004. That 2004 Tribune report read in part:

“Michael Giorango has been convicted twice of federal bookmaking charges and was found guilty in January of promoting a prostitution operation, according to a Justice Department press release and court records.”

“In 1989, Giorango pleaded guilty to helping direct a south suburban bookmaking ring that used threats of bombings, beatings and robbery to collect unpaid debts. Nicknamed "Jaws," Giorango managed bookie parlors that moved periodically, as well as monthly floating "smokers," or casino gambling nights.

In 1991, while Giorango was in federal prison for the bookmaking case, 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. At Barbaro's several wire rooms, Giorango accepted wagers totaling more than $40,000 a week and settled up with customers, prosecutors said.”

So Giannoulias knew that Giorango had convictions for promoting a prostitution ring, bookmaking, gambling and tax violations?

FACT: On April 27, 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported that Giannoulias had traveled to Miami to meet with convicted mobster Michael Giorango and inspect a hotel that Broadway Bank had loaned him money to purchase:

“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.”

What “extent” of Michael “Jaws” Giorango’s criminal activities did Giannoulias learn about in Miami?

FACT: According to the Chicago Tribune, Broadway Bank loaned money to Giorgano’s partner, Demitri Stavropolous, even though Stavropoulos was in federal prison at the time of the loan.

“Co-signing those Broadway loans with Giorango was Demitri Stavropoulos of Oak Brook, who was convicted in 2004 for his role as ringleader of a multistate sports bookmaking operation that grossed about $1 million a year. Stavropoulos also was convicted of explosives possession charges in 1994. Stavropoulos was in federal prison in June 2005 when the $3.6 million Myrtle Beach loan was made. The inmate’s wife signed the loan papers as his ‘attorney in fact,’ land records show. Stavropoulos remains in federal custody and could not be reached for comment. Giorango declined to comment through an attorney.”

Alexi didn’t know the extent? Give us a break.

In a follow-up e-mail, Team Kirk notes that Time's Joe Klein says: "Giannoulias just said he didn’t know the full extent of the criminal activity of people that his bank was giving loans to. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a politician say anything like that before." Watch it below:

Use this as an open thread to comment on the debate. Who won, who lost, what effect will this have on the race, and where do we go from here?

UPDATE: We'll try to add reaction and analysis from various sources on the outcome of the debate as they become available. Here's NBC-5's Ward Room blog reaction. Here's Politico, which focuses mainly on the 'mob ties' issue.


Blue Wind said...

The "extent" issue is silly. There is no bank in this country that has not made mistakes like that. As for Joe Klein, he is not a serious figure. He hates progressive candidates.

Anyway, Kirk looked real bad at the end. His admission that he lied repeatedly about his military record (he had no choice) made him look real bad and emphasized the major problem he has. He looked weak and helpless (and also visibly upset) when Giannoulias kept hammering the integrity issue. And he had no good response. Giannoulias won that debate.

Anonymous said...

Put a sock in it, Blue. You are seriously showing your moronic side. Mark Kirk clearly trumped your guy and there's no amount of your chatter that can change that. Alexi was clueless as ever on programs he'd not support within his party. He had to be reminded by David Gregory that TARP was actually a Republican initiative. He's so ill suited to public office, he's ill suited to do anything more than play basketball.
No, Mark Kirk did NOT look weak or helpless. He answered every question with clarity and with purpose. When HE was asked where he differend with his party he was quick in his response. He led on the issue of Stem Cell Research and on Hate Crimes Legislation that he co-sponsored with John Conyers. And Alexi sat there with that blank stare. You will never admit that Alexi is a guy who is hardly ready for prime time. When a man who wants to serve in the US Senate is clueless about issues that will come before him, when he can't answer basic questions because he's simply not paying attention to the dire straits we face in this country, then it's impossible to see how he could ever advance to the Senate. As for Mark's military embellishments. Nobody condones it, and Kirk addressed it before the Tribune Editorial Board, before the Editorial Boards of all the papers. His 21 years of exceptionally great service in the Navy Reserves is highlighted in those reviews. Some have taken the time to read them. Sadly, Blue, you keep repeating the same tired old lines. Most do NOT agree with you. The difference between what Mark Kirk will bring and what Alexi could do is so vast that it defies comprehension. Maybe his buddy in the WH will invite him over for a game of basketball one day soon. Oh yes, clean off those horribly crusty dark blue glasses that cloud your vision.

Badge of Honor said...

Let's look at how each man addressed their biggest negative:

Kirk - I made a mistake, I corrected the record, apologized and learned a "painful and humbling" lesson.

Giannoulias - I was there, I wasn't there, I didn't know the extent of the criminal activity - it's not my fault!

We all have made mistakes. I'll take Kirk's owning up and apologizing over Alexi's whining evasions every time.

Blue Wind said...

The problem with Kirk's apologies is that he has lied so consistently, so many time, that is impossible to know whether his apology was real or simply another lie. He has lost credibility and that's a huge problem.

Badge of Honor said...

Nonsense Blue - He used the wrong name for a paper award he actually won, he said in Operation Iraqi Freedom when he should have said in Northern Watch and during Iraqi freedom. But he doesn't make those excuses for himself - he accepts his responsibility, corrects his mistakes and uses what he has learned to try to be a better man and civil servant.

Alexi makes risky loans to convicted criminals and never takes any personal responsibility for ruining the business his father built. He pulls 70 million dollars out of the bank but lets it fail and the FDIC cover his losses. He told voters he was VP when he wanted us to believe he was a financial expert we should elect treasurer, but when the questionable business practices become a problem he tells us he left in 2005 - of course then he tells the IRS he didn't leave until 2006 so he can get a 2.7 million dollar tax break.

Alexi is consistent in one thing when it comes to Broadway Bank - a consistent refusal to see that his behavior brought down in just 4 years the bank his father spent a lifetime to build.

Jack S. said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for another one of your meaningless, hate-filled, biased rants. You never cease to make me laugh. Bummer that Glenn Beck will be out of commission for awhile to help get you going.

BTW, hope whoever is paying you to write your comments has provided you with a good health insurance/prescription plan. You're going to need it for heart meds.

Anonymous said...

=Put a sock in it, Blue. You are seriously showing your moronic side.=

I guess this is one interpretation of the "1st amendment" stuff Kirk talks about all the time.


Must have failed the "Winning Friends (Voters) and Influencing People (Voters)" course.

Or maybe not.

Blue Wind said...

Hey TA, here is something that you may enjoy :)

Sorry but your candidate lost badly today and he will also lose badly in November. Get used to the idea of senator Alexi. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Gee Blue Wind, isn't Seals taking the same position as Kirk on the Bush tax cuts?

Are you giggling at the position that Seals is taking on this issue too? Or are you just giggling? Did the Daily Kos even notice that Giannoulias' was slamming on Seals and other Democrats who anxiously are trying to avoid being the recipients of the public's anger in this election cycle?

Nice try at spinning Giannoulias' performance on this debate. He didn't know the "extent" of the criminal behavior of the criminals he was loaning money to? Huh? Finally, after nearly a year of pestering, he ADMITTED that he knew they had criminal backgrounds.

Joe Klein highlighted that most amazing statement right off the bat after the debate.

Kirk proposed 7 debates. They ended up with 1, with Giannoulias backing out of a Southern Illinois debate.

The reason? Giannoulias when pushed always fumbles the ball during debates and press conferences. Does he have to prove that he sounds like Roland Burris or something? Is that why Giannoulias does so few press interviews?

So, uh, like, when did Giannoulias leave Broadway Bank? And telling the IRS he still worked there when he didn't, or telling the citizens of Illinois he no longer worked there when he did is a whopping fib of gigantic proportions. Yet Giannoulias claims he was always consistent with his answers?

Louis G. Atsaves

Anonymous said...

What makes it sad for "knee jerk" dems regarding the debate is that they are struggling with their basic guy Alexi got creamed, my guy Alexi looks silly and unprepared next to Kirk, my guy Alexi does not even have the smarts to hold the office of a state rep (see Karen May)...let alone a US SENATOR.

Blue Wind, Concerned Colonial and the other dwindling knee jerk dems who blindly support a complete moron in "my guy alexi" have 21 days left before you get to bow down in front of all of us who have out-worked you, out fundraised you and completely out classed you since the beginning. You had a chance but you failed.

I look forward to seeing you, and you know who you are....

Kirk wins because Kirk is the most qualified but it certainly helped that we got a chance to debate an absolute fool like Alexi. Back to the dermatologist Alexi and back to looking for a job. I will miss you have been one of the more "entertaining" opponents of Kirk's career but definitely not the smartest. Alexi from three!!!!!!!! Nope.

EightDistrictCommiteeman said...

I just watched all 30 minutes of the debate, and the only possible way you can walk away from that thinking Alexei had any kind of victory is if you only watch the clip where the moderator runs down the list of the military embellishments.
The biggest difference? When asked about it, Kirks response is, "I did it, I take responsibility". Not blaming his staff or anyone else. Even when given the chance to offer up a reason why, he didn't offer an excuse. Just said, It's my fault.
On the other side you have a gentleman who offers nothing but excuses, and places blame for the failure of his "father's legacy" on George Bush. No, he didnt use those words, but in the beginning he referenced the "mess that Obama inherited" and tied it to the recession, and then later blamed the banks failure on the recession.
What really cracked me up is the final question. He couldn't even answer it. Unbelievable.

Get out, work hard. Too many people will go to the ballot box and vote for the letter behind the name. Talk to your friends and neighbors, even if they're known Dems, and show them the facts. This election is far from won.

Anonymous said...

"out classed you since the beginning."

"...Back to the dermatologist Alexi..."

Yup. That's EXACTLY the kind of "class" Kirk's campaign is known for.

Anonymous said...

You've got to wonder about Kirk now that he has Joe Klein & Karl Rove on his side. Those are two huge red flags that should scare the crap out of any independent.

Anonymous said...

"you have 21 days left before you get to bow down in front of all of us who have out-worked you, out fundraised you and completely out classed you since the beginning."

Interesting fantasy. Please, tell us some more about what is going to happen to US when ALL OF YOU "rule the world".

So many reasons to vote for Kirk! Who needs Dem Operatives when you have supporters like these?