Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NRSC Hits Alexi: "The Dog Ate My Homework"

President Obama used his taxpayer-funded official appearance in Quincy, Illinois, today to give the old 'shout-out' to several prominent Democrats, including our pal Alexi Giannoulias. However, even the President's verbal (and actual) "hug" didn't really buoy Alexi's spirits much, as he skittered into a post office to shake off reporters after a lunch rally, as we see over at the Ward Room.

Meanwhile, as the political eyes of the nation are starting to turn towards Illinois as a stronger and stronger chance for the GOP to pick up a coveted "trophy" senate seat from the Dems, our friends at the National Republican Senatorial Committee would like us to enjoy this hit on Alexi, in the wake of the takeover of his family's Broadway Bank by the Feds:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tribune Calls Out Alexi on "Blame Kirk" Strategy for Failed Broadway Bank

Yesterday over at Cap Fax, Rich Miller asked his readers to rate the new ad by Alexi Giannoulias that tried to turn his family's failed Broadway Bank into an opportunity to get pity points with the common man and woman. The general sentiment among commentors seemed to be that if Alexi had simply stuck with the sob story that was the first half of his commercial, all about how his father started the bank and it had simply fallen on hard times with the economy, it might even have worked (notwithstanding that better educated voters probably understand that BB engaged in risky loans concentrated in bets on real estate--not to mention loans to shady characters--and that the family sucked millions in capital back out of the bank before its collapse). You should feel sorry for me, Alexi pines.

But, Team Alexi went on in the commercial to then blame his opponent, Mark Kirk, for the bank's woes, and even resurrect the Democratic bogeyman-in-chief, George W. Bush, as the monster behind the curtain that was REALLY responsible for the bank's collapse. It was all their fault, all those horrible Republican policies, you see, not poor management and loan decisions.

Say again?

Or, as some of the Cap Fax commentors lamented, the chutzpah of it all!

Luckily, the Tribune has called Alexi out on this in its editorial this morning.

As the Trib editors tell us, "Giannoulias' claim smacks of desperation. Anyone truly looking for culprits would start with the people who ran Broadway. Most banks have been able to weather the recession. This one failed mostly because of its own mistakes."

What's the Tribune's bottom line?

"The real question is why it wasn't closed a long time ago," says Washington, D.C.-area banking consultant Bert Ely. "It was a badly run bank."

A badly run bank. Someone is to blame for that, and it isn't Mark Kirk.


Add all this to the news that the Cook report has moved this race from "toss up" to "leans Republican" and it's not to hard to see where this is all heading.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cook Political Report Moves IL Senate Race to "Lean Republican" Due to "Enormous Impact" of Broadway Bank Scandal

The well-respected Cook Political Report has moved the needle once again in the U.S. Senate race in Illinois, and now rates it "lean Republican" in the wake of the seizure of the Giannoulias family's Broadway Bank.

From the Cook Report (subscription required for full access):

The bank’s financial problems and its business relationships with people associated with corruption and organized crime have dogged Giannoulias’ campaign since early February when he became the nominee. Broadway’s failure will have an enormous impact on Giannoulias’ campaign, and it is entirely possible that the fallout could force him from the race. As such, the race is moving from the Toss Up to the Lean Republican column.

More on this tomorrow, I am sure.

Meanwhile, the latest reports are that Obama may suffer to appear with Alexi after all during Obama's stop in Illinois later this week, although the tone of the Pantagraph article makes it seem that Alexi is going to be part of the background and not center stage with Obama. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out.

Alexi Giannoulias Not Going Away Quietly... Thank Goodness (UPDATED)

The race for the U.S. Senate seat that is soon to be vacated by outgoing Blagojevich appointee Roland Burris is proving to be a hot battle between 5-term GOP Congressman Mark Kirk and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Recently, Kirk has been hitting Giannoulias hard, right between the eyes on the revelations that Giannoulias' family-owned Broadway bank was on the danger list for being taken over by the FDIC without a huge injection of capital... not to mention the fact that we then began to learn of all the shady characters that banked or received loans from Broadway Bank. A recent Politico article detailed how Giannoulias' campaign chairman, Dick Durbin, had apparently gone to the White House to plead for support for the beleaguered Alexi, but had been rebuffed.

Then, last Friday, the expected news hit that Broadway Bank was no more, seized by the Feds and the assets sold off to M.B. Financial. Cameramen and reporters swarmed the scene, showing the doors closing and the BB signs being taken down or covered over.

Some thought it was curtains for Alexi. And some thought that it would be a good thing for Mark Kirk. However, the better-informed readers of this Blog know that we'd much rather have a badly-damaged Alexi survive as the Dem candidate, and live to face Kirk in November. Some even mistakenly think that the heavy political hits that have been coming from Kirk's camp have been designed to give Alexi the knock-out punch... and many Alexi supporters put in overtime trying to combat rumors that the Dem powers-that-be had targeted Alexi for political termination.

But we all understand that while Kirk's team has been deftly keeping Alexi back on his heels with jabs to the left and the right, the KO punch is not going to come, by design, because Kirk wants Alexi to be the candidate. It's no secret, but it's rather amusing to me the number of people who seem to think that Kirk intends on running Alexi out of the race. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of course, Alexi has to do his part. When the news was about to break on Friday, there was no doubt some sweat on the brow of some Kirk staffers concerned that they'd done TOO good a job working Alexi over.

But never fear, the smart money was that Alexi's ego wasn't going to take this lying down, and would roll with the punches, only to jab back. Lucky for Kirk, Alexi is now trying to counter, with a new campaign commercial trying to lash back at Kirk while at the same time engender common-man sympathy for the take-over of his family business. Alexi is also renewing his call for Kirk to return Goldman Sachs contributions (all the while ignoring the gobs of money Obama and other Dems have taken from GS), which, although is already starting to get a little stale, may have some populist appeal.

My Dem friends on the inside maintain that while this is going to be close, it's still winnable for Alexi. And that's great, because that's exactly what we want them to think. But they are not giddy over Alexi anymore, by any means. I will be very interested to see how all this affects Alexi's enthusiasm among his base, and his fundraising, though, especially after he got trounced by Kirk in Q1, even before the BB takeover. Even the Anti-Kirk, Ellen of the Tenth, is not impressed with Alexi so far, which ought to scare anyone who figures the base is automatically in the tank for Alexi (is that the ghost of David Hoffman lurking out of the corner of your eye, perhaps?)

Well, watch the video from Alexi and remember what we've learned about politics, in terms of defining your opponent before he or she defines you: Blago did it to JBT and she never recovered. Kirk has successfully implanted the FAILED BANKER label squarely on Alexi's forehead, and Alexi is going to spend the rest of the campaign having to answer that issue even before he can go on the attack against Kirk. Nicely played, Congressman.

Here's Alexi:

UPDATED 10:40 a.m.: Eric Zorn at the Tribune calls Alexi "toxic" and wonders 1) why Alexi doesn't get the message from the cold shoulder given to him by the White House, and 2) why the Dem powers-that-be weren't smart enough to avoid this mess by nominating someone electable. Good questions, all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Developing Story: Bye, Bye Broadway Bank... (UPDATED x2)

To no one's surprise, the major Chicago media outlets are reporting that Alexi Giannoulias' family's Broadway Bank will be closed by the FDIC today. See the latest over at Cap Fax Blog where Rich Miller is updating with the latest news feeds.

We have been having an interesting debate over at Cap Fax Blog all afternoon about whether Alexi weathers this storm. Given that Alexi himself telegraphed this weeks ago, I think he's prepared to batten down the hatches and ride it out.

Mind you, he's not going to win this November. But I doubt his ego will let him quit, either.

UPDATED 4/24/10: Here's your news clip collection of stories regarding the Broadway Bank takeover, courtesy of

Chicago Tribune: Broadway Bank’s failure a twin blow for Giannoulias
Chicago Sun-Times: FDIC regulators shut down Giannoulias family bank
WSJ: Bank Tied to Candidate Is Shuttered
NYT: Illinois: Bank Owned by Candidate’s Family Is Shut
AP/Bellandi: Feds shut down bank owned by Giannoulias
Politico: Giannoulias bank seized

The Giannoulias folks are going batty over themselves on the Internet trying to stave off any rumors that Alexi will be forced to quit over this. I hope they are successful, as we all want a very, very damaged Alexi to survive into the November race so he can get his clock cleaned by Mark Kirk.

Go Alexi! Dig in, stay in!

UPDATED x2: Here's a story by Rick Pearson and John Chase at the Chicago Tribune focusing on the damage done to the Giannoulias campaign by the Broadway Bank takeover. It's a good summation for anyone new to this story:

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Giannoulias' campaign chairman, expressed concerns over a lack of White House commitment to the candidate to Washington-based Politico after a recent meeting with President Barack Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Durbin quickly tempered his comments, and the White House offered a tepid statement that "the president intends to help Democratic candidates in Illinois up and down the ballot."

The lukewarm reaction from Washington is a blow to Giannoulias, a one-time basketball playing buddy of the president who was aided in his first bid for office with a commercial featuring a testimonial from Obama. The warning signs came last summer, when Giannoulias found the White House working to recruit other candidates despite his public intentions to run for the Senate.

The "lukewarm" reaction from the White House is an important point. All eyes will be on the WH over the next few weeks as we see whether Team Obama throws in with Alexi or keeps its distance.

Obama Reluctant to Rescue Alexi Giannoulias Senate Bid

Unsurprisingly, Politico is reporting that a plea from Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to the White House to help save struggling candidate Alexi Giannoulias is apparently falling on deaf ears.

Politico reports:

Durbin told [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel that Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias could use some serious presidential intervention in his uphill race against Republican Rep. Mark Kirk.

At the moment, the White House seems open to the idea of losing Obama’s old seat rather than putting the president’s prestige on the line for Giannoulias, the brash and boyish Illinois state treasurer — and onetime Obama basketball buddy — whose campaign has been rocked by the financial meltdown of his family’s bank.

Durbin said Emanuel was sympathetic to his pleas but ultimately noncommittal, telling him that the White House was “considering the race, weighing their options and weighing a decision on what to do.”

Given yesterday's developments regarding former Governor Rod Blagojevich's attempt to involve Barack Obama in his upcoming trial, it's not hard to see that Obama is likely to stay far, far away from the Giannoulias-Kirk matchup, even if, as Politico suggests, it may mean a black eye for Obama in losing his former Senate seat.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Get Ready for the Blago Circus (UPDATED x2 WITH OBAMA ALLEGATIONS)

We haven't talked a whole lot about the effect that months and months of the "theatre of the absurd" that will be the Blago trial will trickle down to potentially affect all of the political races in Illinois this November. But the time is now almost upon us, and between Blago's performance on Celebrity Apprentice, his wacky news conference last night during the prime local news time, and now getting slapped around by the no-nonsense jurist Judge James B. Zagel, this whole process, while perhaps embarrasing for Illinois, will no doubt make people think twice about supporting the Dems this fall.

And who knows what will happen when Blago starts naming names. Alexi? J. Jackson?



UPDATED 4/22 1:10 p.m.: Wow, I didn't know this was going to happen just a day later when I wrote the above post, but Capitol Fax Blog is reporting that, right on cue, Blago's defense team is trying to drag President Barack Obama into the trial as a witness. Go check on the whole story at Cap Fax, including a way you can access the most salacious allegations that were redacted from the defense motion. Ooops.

UPDATED x2 9:00 p.m.:
Here's a handy link to view the unredacted motion.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mark Kirk, Bob Dold to Return Goldman Contributions; What About Obama's $1 Million??? (UPDATED x2)

Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois, is returning campaign contributions from investment firm Goldman Sachs, which is the target of an SEC civil fraud lawsuit.

“I want to set an example on ethics for others to follow,” Kirk said yesterday. “I will err on the side of caution and watch this case unfold.”

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) examines how Goldman gave freely to lawmakers on each side of the aisle, and quotes 10th Congressional Candidate Bob Dold, who got $7,000 from Goldman, as stating that he would return the contributions or donate them to charity.

So, how about those Dems, including President Obama, who took almost a MILLION dollars from Goldman employees? No word yet, but we'll see. Hey, did Seals get any money from GS? Someone please check his FEC filings and report back.

BTW, it's funny watching the fit being thrown by Ellen of the Tenth (see her comments at Capitol Fax Blog), who called Kirk out on the Goldman contribution issue and then got all upset that Kirk is now getting props for returning the contributions. Ha ha ha.

UPDATED 4/21: Michelle Malkin digs deep for more Dem Goldman connections.

UPDATED x2: Obama won't give back any Goldman contributions. Big shock. I'm sure that's OK with Ellen, Aelxi, Seals, and all the other Dem beneficiaries of the Goldman largess. But all they could do in response to Kirk's decision to give the money back was criticize it. How pathetic.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lake County Republican Federation Spring Gala a Big Success

Last Friday, the Lake County Republican Federation hosted its 48th Annual Spring Gala, featuring Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Other speakers included Congressman Mark Kirk, who is running for U.S. Senate, State Senator Bill Brady, who is running for Illinois Governor, Joe Walsh, running for the 8th Congressional District, and Bob Dold represented by Dr. Arie Friedman, in the 10th District.

About 500 people attended, and by all accounts, the dinner selection just gets better and better (if I do say so myself). A number of folks commented about the energy in the room, and Pawlenty gave an inspiring speech that at times sought to unify all Republicans and at other times, shocked the audience with the enormity of the financial crisis facing the country.

The Spring Gala continues to be the number one fundraising event for Lake County Republicans, which allows us to maintain a full-time headquarters and paid staff, which are vital to keeping Republican principles alive and well. I want to thank everyone who attended and/or sponsored the event, and we hope to see you again next year!

Photo courtesy of and copyrighted by CrossWorks Photography.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Alexi Giannoulias Desperate to Change the Subject From Broadway Bank Scandals (UPDATED x3: Fundraising, Daley, Ellen's View)

Yesterday, State Treasurer (and former "senior loan officer" at his family's Broadway Bank) Alexi Giannoulias desperately tried to turn the focus of the U.S. Senate race here in Illinois from the scandal-plagued bank issues, to his opponent, Congressman Mark Kirk.

However, either Alexi is short on campaign strategy brainpower, or just doesn't have a lot to hit Kirk with, or perhaps both. Alexi's big new direction was to label Mark Kirk as a consummate Washington insider, calling him a "posterboy for why Washington is broken."

Maybe Alexi needs to step back and look at who's standing behind him. Oh, yeah, that's his campaign chairman, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the #2 guy in the Senate, and as consummate a Washington insider as you'll ever find. If Washington is broken (and it's clearly the Democrat's Washington now), it's a lot more Durbin's fault than Kirk's, pal. So much for Nancy Pelosi's claim she would drain the swamp. Rangel, anyone?

No wonder Alexi is trying to turn things away from his banking problems. It's already showing to be a drag on Alexi's fundraising, which his campaign has purposely let slip that will be less than Kirk's impressive Q1 results of $2.2 million.

If yesterday's talk at the City Club of Chicago was any indication, however, reporters are not going to let Giannoulias off the hook for the banking issues, not now, and certainly not when it goes under. And, we confess to great curiosity as to whether Giannoulias is one of the names named by former guv Rod Blagojevich in his trial this summer.

Good times ahead, folks.


From the Kirk for Senate Campaign:

Kirk Raises $1 Million More Than Giannoulias in First Quarter

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from citizens across the State of Illinois who support our thoughtful, independent message of creating jobs, lowering taxes and fighting corruption.” – Congressman Mark Kirk

Kirk Advantage Shows Growing Difficulties Facing Scandal-plagued Giannoulias Campaign

Northbrook, Ill. – Five-term Congressman and Navy veteran Mark Kirk released the following statement after Alexi Giannoulias’ campaign reported it raised $1 million less than the Kirk campaign in the first quarter of 2010:

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from citizens across the State of Illinois who support our efforts to create jobs, lower taxes and fight corruption. After Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris, Illinois voters are looking for clean government and they will have a clear choice in the coming election.”

Earlier today, Giannoulias reported he raised $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2010 – one million less than the Kirk campaign. Giannoulias did not provide any significant details on his coming FEC report, including his current cash-on-hand, out-of-state support and union PAC money. The Kirk campaign reported raising more than $6.6 million for the 2010 cycle with over $3 million in the bank at the close of the first quarter.

As of April 1st, the Kirk campaign received contributions from more than 9,000 individual contributors (80% from Illinois). More than 4,200 people (85% of all contributions) donated to the campaign in the last three months alone.

UPDATED x2: DALEY DEFENDS LEXI: The Tribune's Clout Street Blog is quoting Chicago Mayor Richard Daley as defending Alexi Giannouias against an apparently growing chorus of people who think he ought to drop out of the race.

UPDATED x3: ALEXI'S STAFFERS CAN'T EVEN CONVINCE ELLEN: My blogging nemesis, Ellen of the Tenth, gives a firsthand report of one of Alexi's surrogates (his "director of social media") trying to explain away Broadway Bank. Always the smartest person in the room, Ellen spends her post giving the blow-by-blow description of the Alexi shill trying to answer some tough Broadway Bank questions and not convincing Ellen, who of course offers up her own spin as more 'effective' at explaining away Alexi's troubles.

Bottom line, Ellen seems to think the main problem is that both the Tribune and the Sun-Times are in the tank for Mark Kirk. Um, yeah, that bastion of right-wing extremism, the Sun-Times, is really out to carry the water for Kirk and demolish Alexi because they hate progressives over there. Sheesh. If this is how the Alexi field army is failing to convince even the die-hards like Ellen, he's in some serious trouble, folks.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Alexi Giannoulias - A Brief History of Broadway Bank

A nice video to remind us how Alexi Giannoulias capitalized on his banking experience as his main credential for running for State Treasurer, but now that he's facing taint due to the problems at his family's Broadway Bank, he was always emptying the wastebaskets when something serious was going on (as the Tribune snarkily put it).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mark Kirk Raises Staggering $2.2 Million in Q1

From the Kirk for Senate campaign:

Kirk Raises $2.2 Million in First Quarter of 2010, $6.6 Million for Election Cycle as Accelerating Fundraising Pace Continues

Kirk: “Illinois voters have a clear choice in this election to change direction, create jobs and restore integrity to the State of Illinois.”

Northbrook, Ill. – Five-term Congressman and Navy veteran Mark Kirk today reported his Illinois Senate campaign raised more than $2.2 million since January 1st and more than $6.6 million for the 2010 cycle with over $3 million in the bank at the close of the first quarter.

As of April 1st, the Kirk campaign received contributions from more than 9,000 individual contributors (80% from Illinois). More than 4,200 people (85% of all contributions) donated to the campaign in the last three months alone.

“The coming election offers the people of Illinois a clear choice to change direction,” campaign spokesman Eric Elk said. “Congressman Kirk wore the uniform of our country, fought for stem cell research and defended Lake Michigan from polluters while Alexi Giannoulias pushed risky ‘hot money’ lending schemes, authorized loans to organized crime figures like Michael 'Jaws' Giorango and wiped out $70 million in Bright Start college savings funds for Illinois families. After Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris, we won’t get fooled again.”

Last month, the Kirk campaign launched the first TV ad of the general election. The 30-second spot, entitled “Independent,” highlights Congressman Kirk’s independent and effective record including his support for stem cell research, strong defense of Lake Michigan, leading opposition to the “Bridge to Nowhere,” votes for lower taxes and 20-year service as a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer.

On Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Broadway Bank of Chicago loaned more than $20 million to known organized crime figures Michael “Jaws” Giorango and Demitri Stavropoulos when Alexi Giannoulias served as the bank’s Vice President and Senior Loan Officer. According to Giannoulias’ brother, the family learned of the pair’s criminal background in 2004 but continued to loan them millions of dollars anyway. The report contradicted previous statements by Giannoulias that he and his family were never aware of Giorango and Stavropoulos’ mob ties when loans were approved.

While Giannoulias made Political Action Committee (PAC) funding an issue, federal records show Alexi Giannoulias’ Campaign Chairman, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, accepted more than $6.5 million from PACs – $4.41 million from corporate PACs alone – over his career along with $663,000 from lobbyists, $1.46 million from Big Banks and Securities, and $1.45 million from the health care sector. State records show Giannoulias accepted more than $1.98 million from businesses and unions in his State Treasurer race while federal records show he already accepted $93,500 from federal PACs for his Senate campaign. Giannoulias also ignored calls to refuse contributions from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee, which can funnel millions of dollars in corporate PAC contributions to his campaign.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New PPP Poll Shows Mark Kirk Ahead of Alexi Giannoulias, 37-33

A new poll out from Public Policy Polling of 591 Illinois voters has Congressman Mark Kirk pulling ahead 37-33 over State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. (Full results and crosstabs here). Just prior to the February primary, PPP had Giannoulias over Kirk, 42-34. But, as PPP notes, the last few weeks/months have been devastating for Giannoulias as scandals at his family-owned Broadway Bank continue to develop, and are now getting national attention. This shows in the polling numbers, as Alexi's unfavorables have increased from 19% to 28% over that period, and his favorables have dropped from 31% to 21%.

Interestingly, according to the PPP poll, Kirk is winning 77% of the Republican votes, with only 16% undecided, which would imply that Kirk is seeing strong support among most Republicans, despite some primary challenges mainly from the right.

While PPP notes that Kirk still has an uphill battle given Illinois' overall blue bent, it also states that if Democratic voters continue to be unhappy with Alexi (and Governor Pat Quinn) and "decide to just stay home or even worse to vote Republican Kirk has a pretty decent shot at winning this. There may not be a state in the country where Democrats have a weaker top of the ticket at this point than Quinn and Giannoulas."

h/t to longtime reader/commentor Badge of Honor. Thanks BOH!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bob Dold Announces Impressive Fundraising For Q1

Bob Dold today announced his first quarter fundraising results, which were impressive, and stole some thunder from his opponent, two-time loser Dan Seals, by being the first to announce. I have not heard any rumors as to whether Seals is expected to be close, or even exceed, Dold, so we'll have to see, unless any TA readers have an inside scoop.

From the Dold Campaign:

Dold Momentum Builds - Campaign Raises Over Half Million Dollars in First Quarter

Continues to grow a strong grassroots network of supporters

Winnetka, IL - Today, Illinois 10th District Republican Congressional candidate Robert Dold announced that his campaign brought in just over a half million dollars in contributions in the first quarter.

From January 1-March 31, 2010 the Dold campaign received $504,822 in donations. Individual contributions comprised 88% of the donations while 12% were from PAC’s. Illinois residents gave 82% of the individual contributions. As of the end of the quarter the campaign had $377,672 cash on hand.

“I am honored to have earned the confidence of so many residents in the 10th Congressional District.” Dold continued, “My campaign’s message focusing on getting Americans back to work, reining in out of control spending and keeping the U.S. safe and free is resonating. I will work to bring small business common sense thinking to Washington and bring real solutions to our nation’s problems.”

Dold, owner and president of a Northfield-based small business is running against the 10th Districts’ perennial candidate, Dan Seals, in one of the most competitive House districts in the country.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Giannoulias Bank Dealings Get Shadier and Shadier

The more we learn about Alexi Giannoulias' activities and decisions when he was a senior loan officer at his family's Broadway Bank, the greater concern there seems to be that some really questionable decisions were being made by Alexi.

Let's recall that when Alexi campaigned for his current position as State Treasurer, he leaned heavily, if not exclusively, on his experience as a loan officer for why he should be put in charge of the state's finances. But now that many of his decisions as a loan officer to, shall we say, 'colorful' characters, are coming to light, Alexi has been working overtime to distance himself from the taint of these decisions.

I think the Chicago Tribune said it best a few weeks ago:

"When the family bank was flying high and Giannoulias had his eye on the treasurer's office, he was the senior loan officer, but when the tough decisions were made or the questionable characters came to call, it was almost always Alexi's day to empty the wastebaskets."

The Tribune has relentlessly been pursuing the behind-the-scenes doings at Broadway Bank during Alexi's tenture as a loan officer and VP, and just keeps finding more and more dirt. Today's scandal is as follows:

The family bank of Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias loaned a pair of Chicago crime figures about $20 million during a 14-month period when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer, according to a Tribune examination that provides new details about the bank's relationship with the convicted felons.

Broadway Bank had already lent millions to Michael Giorango when he and a new business partner, Demitri Stavropoulos, came to the bank in mid-2004. Although both men were preparing to serve federal prison terms, the bank embarked on a series of loans to them.

Was Alexi emptying wastebaskets that day too? Seems that's their story, and he and his family (including his brother, Demetris Giannoulias, who now runs the bank) are sticking to it:

Alexi Giannoulias, who started his professional career at the bank in 2002, said in his statement that he was "one of" the senior loan officers at the bank and was not a member of the loan committee that approved the financing for Giorango.

Alexi Giannoulias' role was limited to "getting the appraisals ordered, getting the loan documents prepared, coordinating with attorneys, getting commitment letters prepared. All that kind of stuff," Demetris Giannoulias said.

Sure. I guess that once the Tribune finishes digging, what's left of Alexi's significant banking experience (if you can call it that) will be such that the citizens of Illinois will be astounded that they elected such an inexperienced and unqualified buffoon to the office of State Treasurer.

But, they've been fooled often before. Let's hope they are not fooled again.