Alexi Gives Clout Kid An Assist - NBC Chicago

Alexi Gives Clout Kid An Assist

Favor for fundraising priest



    Today's revelation in the ongoing University of Illinois clout scandal involves a South Side chocolate heiress, a Greek Orthodox priest, an aide to state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and yet another incriminating e-mail.

    Take it away, Tribune:

    "When a politically connected Greek Orthodox priest wanted help getting the daughter of a family friend into the University of Illinois, he reached out to a campaign adviser to state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

    "Giannoulias' political director came through, getting the applicant into the university's secret admissions system for students with clout, and she was plucked from her spot on the university's waiting list and admitted.

    "Four months later, the Greek Orthodox priest aided Giannoulias with a fundraiser that netted at least $120,000, the Tribune has learned."

    Of course, that could have just been a coincidence.

    Like the vast majority of students who were helped by the university's secret parallel admissions track, the girl who was clouted into the school not only came from a well-connected family, but a really wealthy one.

    The Tribune did not name the student.

    While those involved defended their actions, they did so rather defensively.

    For example:

    "A spokesman for Giannoulias' senate bid said Thursday that the treasurer knew nothing about the admissions inquiry," the Tribune reports. "The campaign initially tried to downplay [Giannoulias aide Endy] Zemenides' connection to the campaign but later conceded his title of political director."

    The provost at the time of the request, Linda Katehi, said her actions in forwarding the requested favor along were "absolutely appropriate."

    But her e-mail to admission officer Ruth Watkins noted that the favor was requested by Giannoulias's campaign manager, and that the girl in question was from a prominent Greek family in Chicago.

    "Then-Vice Provost Ruth Watkins suggested accepting the applicant after the traditional deadline, a move often used by university officials to keep clouted admissions from raising eyebrows at major feeder schools," the Tribune notes.

    After another admissions official agreed, Katehi replied in an e-mail: "Excellent!"

    The Rev. Alexander Karloutsos told the Tribune: "I told Endy if there was anything he can do to help her achieve her dream, we would be grateful," Karloutsos said. "If we can help her realize her academic dream without violating her academic principles, what's wrong with that?"

    Apparently getting a student who was originally wait-listed admitted as a favor doesn't violate academic principles in Karloutsos's book.

    We can only wonder what Jesus would have done.

    But we know what Karloutsos did: he held a fundraiser a month later for Giannoulias that netted at least $120,000.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor ofThe Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.