Bank closure an issue in race for U.S. Senate

April 23, 2010 9:05:57 PM PDT
Problems with Broadway Bank have been an ongoing issue in the race for U.S. Senate. While Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias has downplayed his role at the bank formerly owned by his family, Republican challenger Mark Kirk has focused on what he calls reckless decision-making.When you've got lemons, make lemonade-- and that's what Giannoulias was trying to do Friday with his family bank's failure. Giannoulias says his father built Broadway Bank to help others realize the 'American Dream,' and he was responsible for only 9 percent of what turned out be bad real estate loans when he was a senior officer of the bank before becoming state treasurer.

Struggling to maintain his composure, the embattled treasurer vowed to fight on in his quest for Pres. Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

"Tonight, my campaign for the United States Senate goes forward with a renewed determination to turn Illinois' economy around and to fix what is broken in Washington, D.C.," Giannoulias said during a press conference.

Giannoulias made a virtue of the bank's failure, blaming a culture of greed and Wall Street excess, and the real estate collapse, for taking down his family's business.

"There was no bailout for my father's bank. It is an incredibly sad and heart-breaking day for me and my family. This bank has helped thousands of people when no one else would give them a chance," Giannoulias said.

That didn't wash with Republican Congressman Mark Kirk. In a statement from his campaign, Giannoulias' opponent in the November election said:

"While years of risky lending schemes, hot money investments and loans to organized crime led to today's failure, it's a sad day for Broadway Bank employees who may lose their jobs due to Mr. Giannoulias' reckless business practices," Kirk said.

"The one break that Giannoulias does get is that our primary was so early that there are months and months ahead to stage his comeback," said Paul Green.

Illinois' senior senator, Dick Durbin, stands by Giannoulias.

"Doesn't fairness suggest that if there's been any wrongdoing at the bank it shouldn't be heaped on his shoulders just because he has the same last name as his brothers who are running it?" said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois.

To reports that the White House was unwilling to support the campaign of the president's basketball buddy due to Broadway Bank's troubles, Giannoulias was careful.

"They told me the day after the primary they were supportive. They are going to continue to do so," said the treasurer.

But Sen. Dick Durbin, chair of the Giannoulias campaign, confirms he was unsuccessful last week in getting the White House to openly support the treasurer.

"We talked about the current situation with Alexi Giannoulias' campaign, and they asked obvious and important questions: 'How's he doing? Is he organizing his campaign well?Is he raising money? Is he putting it together?'" said Sen. Durbin. "At this point, it's way too early for these commitments to be made. The honest answer is we have races all over the country, House and Senate, and I'm sure the president is looking to those he can make a difference in."

Next week, President Obama is coming to Quincy, Illinois, and Giannoulias says -- as of now-- he will not be on stage with the president.


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