Alexi Answers Tough Questions After Bank Collapse - NBC Chicago

Alexi Answers Tough Questions After Bank Collapse



    At the Greek Independence Day celebration, Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias fields a flurry of questions about Broadway Bank and his campaign finances. (Published Monday, April 26, 2010)

    Two days after his family's bank collapsed and was taken over by the federal government, Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias fielded a flurry of questions about it at the Greek Independence Day festival.

    Giannoulias acknowledged the closure of the bank was a tragedy, but pushed the idea that his family bank was not alone.  Six other banks in Illinois were shut down on the same day last week.  Giannoulias continued to push the point that he hasn't been part of the bank's day-to-day operations in years, and when he left, everything seemed to be going OK.

    "When I left Broadway Bank over four years ago, it was one of the highest performing banks in the state of Illinois. It had capital in excess of not only what its peer group had, but also in excess of what the FDIC required, and very few people could have foreseen what took place over the next few years," Giannoulias said. "And the fact that less than 9 percent of the non-performing assets were even around when I was there -- I think that says a lot about what I've done as state treasurer and it's what is on the forefront of voters' minds."

    Giannoulias attempted to turn the conversation to his opponent, again challenging Republican Mark Kirk to give back all contributions from Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs.

    "Mark Kirk's record proves that he is dependent on corporate cash and the very Wall Street firms that brought our economy to its knees," Giannoulias said. "The bottom line is that Mark Kirk sells his vote to the highest bidders on Wall Street, protecting their billions in profits and bonuses, for the bargain price of a campaign contribution."

    Today, Kirk campaign Spokesman Kirsten Kukowski responded:

      Clearly, Alexi Giannoulias is desperately trying to change the subject from his reckless business practices that led to the failure of Broadway Bank and the $394 million in losses the bank cost the FDIC - the fourth most expensive Illinois bank failure in the past 10 years.

      "It is ridiculous for someone whose family bank was engaged in years of risky lending schemes, including hot money investments and millions in loans to convicted felons and organized crime figures to question the decision by Congressman Kirk to err on the side of caution and return contributions from individuals accused of no wrong doing.

      "There are a lot of questions about Broadway Bank and how it got to this point that Alexi will have to answer as his campaign moves forward."

    Giannoulias' campaign claims Kirk only gave back part of the money -- roughly half of the $54,000 they say came from Goldman Sachs employees.

    Kirk previously said his campaign was still figuring out exactly how much money came from Goldman Sachs employees, adding that he did not take any money directly from the bank's political action committee.

    Kirk made the decision to return the money because of the SEC investigation into Goldman Sachs, his campaign has said. 

    Don't expect the Broadway Bank issue to go away, no matter how much the Giannoulias campaign may want it to.  On Sunday, Kirk's spokeswoman made it clear they'll be bringing it up again.

    "There are a lot of questions about Broadway Bank and how it got to this point that Alexi will have to answer as his campaign moves forward," Kukowski said.