Chicago Sun Times columnist Michael Sneed tells us:
Hoop scoop: Sneed hears rumbles that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, 32, a basketball buddy and political protege of President Obama, is gonna make himself official.
• • Translation: Watch for Giannoulias to announce the formation this week of an exploratory committee to run for beleaguered Sen. Roland Burris’ seat.
• • Pssst! Dem insiders say Giannoulias was invited to accompany Sen. Dick Durbin — who is “sickened” by the Burris brouhaha — on a congressional delegation to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus last week to give Giannoulias some international exposure.
Great! Hey, you know, in addition to being Obama’s basketball buddy, Giannoulias also hosted a September 2007 fund-raiser for Obama, pledging to raise $100,000. And he donated $7000 to Obama personally, despite other contributions to the National Committee.
[Turns, Columbo-style, scratches head, and says:] Oh . . . there’s just one more thing.
What about Giannoulias’s business dealings with members of the mob? And Tony Rezko?
Reader jimboster provides some links with useful background. Let’s start with this, from the local ABC TV station:
New questions were raised Thursday about a political candidate’s alleged connections to organized crime. Alexi Giannoulias is a Democrat running for Illinois state treasurer. His Republican opponent, Christine Radogno, is asking these questions. But she isn’t the only one.
Political newcomer Alexi Giannoulias is not only facing Republican Christine Ragogno in the state treasurer’s race, he is also battling with the chairman of his own Democratic party, House Speaker Michael Madigan, who agrees with Radogno that Giannoulias hasn’t provided the right answers to questions abut loans from his family bank to unsavory characters.
The Democratic candidate for state treasurer, Chicago banker Alexi Giannoulias, is still facing the same questions he has been answering for months about multi-million dollar loans from his family-owned Broadway Bank to convicted felons with mob ties. Some of the questions are coming from his Republican opponent, state senator Christine Radogno of southwest suburban LaGrange.
“Clearly, he is the banker for people with mob associations, and, yeah, I don’t think there’s any question about that,” said Christine Radogno, (R)-nominee for state treasurer.
He was also the banker for Tony Rezko:
Rezko allegedly accumulated $450,000 in debts to Caesars Palace and Bally’s Hotel Casino between March and July 2006. He passed nine bad checks and got hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash or gaming chips in return, Roger said. The bad checks, written on Rezko’s Broadway Bank account, were for amounts ranging from $15,000 to $120,000. Bellagio LLC won a civil judgment against Rezko for failing to repay $331,000 in gambling markers.
This link has more details about the loans to mobsters:
According to a Chicago Tribune article from 2006, Giannoulias “has faced questions about the bank’s multi-million dollar loans to Michael Gioranago, a convicted bookmaker and prostitution ring promoter.” Barack Obama was quoted in the article as saying that he “is concerned by revelations that the bank owned by Illinois Democratic treasurer nominee Alexi Giannoulias’ family gave loans to a Chicago crime figure and said the candidate owes him and the public a full accounting.”
And while Giannoulias claimed that the loans to Gioranago were made “before he became a full-time bank employee”, “newly discovered public records show Broadway Bank made $11.8 million in additional mortgage loans to Giorango just last year. Giannoulias said he oversaw the servicing of those loans.”
Apparently Giannoulias didn’t give the “full acounting” demanded by Obama, according to the Illinois Democrat who is the House Speaker:
Rodogno is getting unexpected help in fueling the controversy from the chairman of Giannoulias’s own Democratic party, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who refuses to endorse Giannoulias and won’t even put his picture on the party’s campaign web site.
“I want some answers. The allegations are there,” Madigan said earlier this week. “My history in politics, if you were alleged to be connected to the mob, you were done. But life seems to go on.”
Not only is this guy not “done” — he may have far to go. Life goes on . . . and so do Chicago-style politics.