Rezko loan at issue in Senate race

August 2, 2010 (CHICAGO) They claim Giannoulias misled voters. Giannoulias says Republicans are just trying to distract voters from real issues.

The deal in question was made in February 2006, at least four months after Giannoulias had quit his job as chief loan officer to run for Illinois treasurer. And unlike many other Broadway Bank commercial real estate loans, the $22.7 million was paid back within six months.

Still, Republicans accused the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate of hiding information about the deal between the Giannoulias family-owned bank and convicted political schemer Tony Rezko.

"It's inconsistencies. It's the failure to fully disclose that raise a lot of questions," said Ill. Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady.

Brady and the DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett say Giannoulias should have revealed his family's bank's involvement in the failed effort to develop 62 acres along the Chicago River near Roosevelt and Clark.

Four months after Giannoulias' September 2005 resignation from the Broadway Bank, his older brother, Demetrius, reportedly signed off on the loan to a company controlled by British Iraqi businessman Nadhmi Auchi. Auchi's silent partner in the deal was Tony Rezko, who, two years later, would be convicted on federal corruption charges.

Birkett does not buy Giannoulias' claim that he was unaware of the deal.

"It doesn't happen without consulting with family members, especially when you know that Tony Rezko is political kryptonite, and if you make a loan to this company, at some point of time in his future, it's going to be raised," Birkett said.

Federal prosecutors say Rezko controlled appointments to several Illinois boards and commissions and was convicted in 2008 for trying to get kickbacks from companies who wanted state business.

Operatives for Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk are blamed by the Giannoulias campaign for the newly revealed link between Broadway Bank and Rezko.

"If anyone in this race has a Rezko problem, it's Mark Kirk. He is the only candidate who has taken a contribution from Mr. Rezko and has taken thousands more from his [Rezko's] convicted associates," wrote Giannoulias spokeswoman Kathleen Strand in a statement.

The Kirk campaign is also accused of planting the Broadway Bank story a few days in advance of Pres. Barack Obama's arrival in Chicago. This coming Thursday, the president will make his first appearance at a Giannoulias U.S. Senate fundraising event.

"He's relying on his crew of Washington insiders to come back to Illinois and raise money for him. Do we need another senator in the United States Senate that does nothing but answer and take orders from the White House and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid?" Brady said.

Late Monday afternoon, the Kirk campaign confirmed that it donated to charity the campaign contribution it accepted years ago from Tony Rezko, as well as the campaign contributions Kirk took from five other people who pleaded guilty in related corruption schemes.

Just goes to show there are plenty of crooks to talk about one way or another in this year's U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois.

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