In a game of political "nuh-uh, yuh-huh," Senate candidates Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias have set up rival websites making contradicting claims about the latter's past.
In an effort to clear the air of what he describes as "smears" regarding his banking career, Giannoulias spent Wednesday of this week meeting with newspaper editorial boards, giving interviews and opening up about his days at Broadway Bank. The bank, owned by his family, is on an FDIC "watch list" and, in Alexi's words, is "quite likely" to close before November.
Opponents have alleged that as chief loan officer at the bank, he pushed it into risky loans and made bad decisions that led to its collapse. In his media tour, Alexi countered these allegations, saying that like many small banks, his family's is suffering the ill effects of a harsh recession.
To accompany this message, he launched a website, TruthAboutAlexi.com. The site addresses a number of so-called "myths" about the bank, including "Alexi was Tony Rezko's banker" (he points out that Kirk has actually taken campaign funds from Rezko) and "If the bank fails, taxpayers are on the hook" (not so, he says; the FDIC isn't taxpayer-funded, and the bank took no TARP money).
But Kirk wouldn't let him get off that easily. Instead, his campaign launched RealTruthAboutAlexi.com (emphasis added), which seeks to prove the smears as credible allegations. Citing a bevy of newspaper articles, the site claims that Alexi did in fact know the criminal history of Michael "Jaws" Giorango when he authorized a Broadway loan to him, and that his investment in real estate, an "oft-risky" market, led to the bank's demise.
At least on some of the issues, the actual truth of the matter will never be clear. (If Alexi hadn't have made certain investments, would the bank have collapsed anyway? Who can say.) But as far as politics goes, Giannoulias is in an unenviable position. Despite trying to divert attention to other stories, like Kirk's vote on the HIRE Act, the attention is still on Broadway Bank. And it's a safe bet that we haven't heard the last of the issue.