Why Does Alexi Need a Special Request to Give Back His Million-Dollar Payout When the Family Bank is Near Collapse?
“If my family asks me, sure” – Chicago Sun-Times, February 22, 2010
Does Alexi need a special request to do the right thing and stop a potential taxpayer bailout for his family’s bank?
Now 25 days since promising reporters he would answer questions surrounding his role in the near-collapse of his family’s Broadway Bank, the Illinois Republican Party is asking Democrat Alexi Giannoulias to explain why he needs to wait for a request from his family to return his million-dollar payout when the bank is already near collapse and it could help prevent a taxpayer bailout for the bank from the FDIC.
This morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Giannoulias-owned Broadway Bank “was struggling because it had relied so heavily on high-risk loans of the type Giannoulias approved as vice president” and added that Giannoulias’ “Democratic primary election rival, David Hoffman, hammered Giannoulias on the stump with that fact.” But when asked by the Sun-Times whether he would “give back any of that $1 million” in dividends he removed from the bank in 2007 and 2008, Giannoulias replied, “If my family asks me, sure.”
“While Alexi Giannoulias refuses to answer basic questions about his risky loan schemes, reckless investments and ties to organized crime figures, the least Alexi can do is return his million-dollar payout he received from the risky banking practices and work to prevent a federal taxpayer bailout for the bank he helped bring near collapse,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady said.
Actually, Giannoulias has answered some bank questions
Illinois’ Republican Party is keeping up a steady drumbeat of pressure on Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias to answer questions about his family’s Broadway Bank.
“Why is Alexi hiding?” the party asked in an e-mail to reporters a week after the election and after news conferences Giannoulias had held in Chicago and Springfield.
“Put Alexi on the phone,” they repeated Wednesday.
In at least 10 e-mails sent out since the election, the party says Giannoulias is ducking questions about loans he authorized four years ago as vice-president of his family’s Broadway Bank and about the bank’s current troubled financial state.
They repeat a line he used days before the election to wave off further questions about the bank: “If I’m fortunate enough to make it out of the primary, we can have that conversation.”
The Chicago Tribune’s editorial page piggy-backed on the e-mails and said Giannoulias needs to answer more questions about his role at the bank now that he has been fortunate enough to make it out of the primary.
But the truth is that Giannoulias has been answering questions about the loans for four years, ever since his first run for office. Never gleefully or enthusiastically. He often tries to beg off questions by noting he has not been at the bank in four years. But over the years, when pressed, he has admitted he made loans to mobsters and said if he had known they were mobsters he would not have made the loans.
Most recently in December, Giannoulias spent 12 minutes before Sun-Times editorial board members answering questions about the loans. Hear the full conversation at www.suntimes.com.
At first he said, “Knowing back then what the bank knew at the time, we probably wouldn’t have given the loans.” Then he clarified: “If I knew then what we knew now, obviously we wouldn’t have made those loans.”
What has changed since Giannoulias sat and answered questions for the Sun-Times and Tribune editorial boards the last time is that his family’s bank entered into a consent decree with state and federal regulators just before the election. While that development is new, the fact that Broadway Bank was struggling because it had relied so heavily on high-risk loans — and that Giannoulias had approved some high-risk loans as vice president — was already well-known. His Democratic primary election rival, David Hoffman, hammered Giannoulias on the stump with that fact.
One question the e-mails from the Republicans and the Tribune editorial say Giannoulias should answer is whether he plans to give back any of the dividends paid out after his father’s death. That was $70 million to $86 million the Giannoulias family took out of the bank as it was struggling. Giannoulias said that money went to cover taxes on his father’s estate and the administration costs of handling that estate. Only $2.5 million of that went to Alexi Giannoulias and about $1.5 million of that went to taxes Giannoulias campaign has said. Will Giannoulias give back any of that $1 million?
“If my family asks me, sure,” he told the Sun-Times.
The rest of the article covers Alexi’s specific answers which cover most of the questions. When you go over the top on this stuff, the press in Illinois at least, stops listening. It’s fine to bring up Broadway, but don’t pretend he hasn’t been answering questions about it.