Mark Kirk has two new TV spots out. Between them, they have just about enough truth for one ad.
That’s true, but it’s also a non-sequitur. Kirk did nothing to stop BP from polluting the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, he specifically endorsed oil drilling there, telling WLS’ Don Wade and Roma Show, “it makes perfect sense for the United States to make sure our team gets that same oil before Castro does.”
Kirk also claims that “Giannoulias’s top aide was a longtime BP lobbyist.” The aide in question, Endy Zemenides, is a real estate lawyer who was required to register as a lobbyist in order to do work on behalf of BP gas stations in Chicago.
As for Kirk’s assertion that “Alexi says higher energy taxes are on the table,” that couldn’t be truer. Giannoulias wants to eliminate tax deductions now enjoyed by the auto industry and slap a 4 percent fee on foreign oil. Those measures would result in higher gasoline prices.
Kirk’s second ad, “Risky,” points out that Giannoulias is 34 years old (true, although we didn’t ask to see his birth certificate) and states “at his father’s bank, Alexi made tens of millions in risky loans to convicted mobsters.” That’s accompanied by mug shot type photos of Michael “Jaws” Giorango, John D’Arco Jr., and Boris “Half Dollar” Stratievsky. That’s mostly true. The bank did do business with those guys, and Giannoulias personally oversaw a loan to Giorango.
But then Kirk states that, as treasurer, Giannoulias “made risky investments that cost families $73 million in lost college savings.”
Kirk is referring to the Bright Start college savings fund, which suffered when one of its investments, the Oppenheimer Core Plus fund, lost 40 percent of its value. Almost every state’s investments lost money in 2008 and 2009. If Giannoulias had been overleveraged in Core Plus, he would rightly bear the blame for risky, irresponsible investing. But Core Plus was one of 22 different funds that Bright Start owned.
Kirk’s criticism is a turnaround from a statement he made to the Chicago Tribune in October. Kirk told the paper that Bright Start was “failing miserably” … but didn’t blame Giannoulias. Check the video, sent over by the Giannoulias campaign. The salient point is at 5:45:
“But rather than criticize the first-term Democratic state treasurer, Kirk went after 'a state bureaucrat that has a bad record,'" the Tribune reported. "Asked by a reporter who that bureaucrat was, Kirk replied it was the person who ran the Oppenheimer “core plus” fund—who is not a state employee. That’s the argument that Giannoulias has been making in trying to recover the funds.”
Giannoulias is expected to release his own response to the ads this morning.
UPDATE: The Giannoulias response: This video, and a statement from Matt McGrath that includes a "fact check" section breaking down Kirk's ads. McGrath: "Just as you can't trust what Congressman Kirk says about himself, you really can't trust what he says about Alexi. Congressman Kirk really ought to heed his own words, less than a day old, and stop lying to the people of Illinois."