Illinois State Treasurer and Democratic Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias appears to be sending mixed signals, both to the press and senior campaign aides, about his blossoming banking scandals, in which he approved as the senior loan officer of his family's bank million dollar loans to two of Chicago's most notorious crime figures.
A report by the Chicago Tribune revealed in April Giannoulias had authorized a series of loans, totaling roughly $20 million, to two convicted felons preparing to serve time in federal prison. The Giannoulias campaign weathered its first loan-related controversy in the Democratic primary when it was reported the Giannoulias family bank awarded sizable loans to prominent Chicago real estate developer and political bundler Tony Rezko, who in 2008 was found guilty on 16 counts of corruption.
Giannoulias had always declined to publicly provide details of the loan arrangement with Michael "Jaws" Giorango and Demitri Stavropolous, admitting only that he traveled to Miami to inspect property the bank had financed for the dubious duo.
But on the nuances of Giannoulias' loan operations, shady as they may be, campaign talkers are either dated or factually wrong, as campaign spokeswoman Kathleen Strand insists her boss had "no role with these two individuals" when by his own admission he has.
As a professional spox, Strand does both herself and her candidate a disservice by straying from the campaign's approved message. But yet she's just so good at it.
Giannoulias Sunday crashed a fundraiser for school building projects in Central Asia, where he delivered a decidedly political speech, riling many of the attendees who came expecting an academic discussion on the state of education in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Daily Herald columnist Chuck Goudie, who was in attendance at the fundraiser, reports those gathered were "stunned" at Giannoulias' "largely unforgettable" speech--which Strand no doubt had a hand in crafting.
"Organizers of the event said that Giannoulias had been told politicians were not welcome to make speeches," Goudie wrote. "It wasn't that type of event."
And yet Giannoulias, with Strand in tow, crashed the event like a pair of fourteen-year-old boys at a girls-only slumber party. Strand explained the apparent mix-up as a "failure to communicate" to Goudie.
For Republicans, the Giannoulias campaign's sustained "failure to communicate"--on a bevy of issues, from career-killing loans to mobsters to mundane stories like crashing a non-political fundraiser--means a weakened, off-message opponent this Fall. For Strand and Giannoulias, the non-communicating pair will soon be looking for new jobs.
UPDATE: A friend sends word a new spoof of Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had A Million Dollars" is circulating among Illinois Republicans.
"If I had 20 million dollars, well, I'd give you a loan," the song goes. "You and your shady friend with those $20 million dollars from my friendly family bank."