Commentary Magazine


Topic: Lev Stratievsky

Democrats Need an Exit Plan in Illinois

The Chicago Sun Times reports:

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias acknowledged Wednesday that his family bank, the Broadway Bank, will probably fail.

But Giannoulias strongly denied he ever engaged in “reckless” or “risky” loan-making when he served as chief loan officer for his family’s now-struggling Broadway Bank. Giannoulias ran for state treasurer four years ago touting his know-how as a bank executive.

Well, it gets better — or worse, depending on your perspective:

Giannoulias denied having any role in getting his former campaign policy director in 2006, Brent Adams, his current post as Acting Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation for the state of Illinois, which has jurisdiction over Broadway Bank. …

He strongly denied the family was irresponsible for taking $69 million out of the bank just before the real estate collapse that he said they did not see coming.

“In 2007, if we knew the market was going to go sour, we would have stopped making loans,” Giannoulias said. “The bank was appraised in 2006 or 2007 for $300 million, so they could have sold the bank, even if just for $200 million.”

Giannoulias defended his use of “brokered deposits” — under his tenure they became 68 percent of the bank’s deposits compared to the industry standard of four percent — saying Broadway did not have a lot of branches and ATMs to bring in deposits.

And what about his bank’s Mob clients? Ah, those would be “‘a few colorful characters’ — convicted bookmaker Michael Giorango, Russian mobsters Boris and Lev Stratievsky, and convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko — [who] were not representative of his portfolio. Giannoulias denied, even though he went down to Florida to inspect the properties, that he was aware of Giorango’s mob ties.”

Really, what were the Democrats thinking when they nominated him? Well, the lieutenant-governor nominee already stepped down after his domestic-violence issue came to light. So I’m not convinced that Giannoulias is going to make it all the way to November. Frankly, if there isn’t a Frank-Lautenberg-for-Robert-Torricelli game plan in the works, I think that seat is a goner for the Democrats. After all, they don’t want to fall behind (jump ahead of?) New York in the most-embarrassing-political-culture race, do they?

The Chicago Sun Times reports:

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias acknowledged Wednesday that his family bank, the Broadway Bank, will probably fail.

But Giannoulias strongly denied he ever engaged in “reckless” or “risky” loan-making when he served as chief loan officer for his family’s now-struggling Broadway Bank. Giannoulias ran for state treasurer four years ago touting his know-how as a bank executive.

Well, it gets better — or worse, depending on your perspective:

Giannoulias denied having any role in getting his former campaign policy director in 2006, Brent Adams, his current post as Acting Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation for the state of Illinois, which has jurisdiction over Broadway Bank. …

He strongly denied the family was irresponsible for taking $69 million out of the bank just before the real estate collapse that he said they did not see coming.

“In 2007, if we knew the market was going to go sour, we would have stopped making loans,” Giannoulias said. “The bank was appraised in 2006 or 2007 for $300 million, so they could have sold the bank, even if just for $200 million.”

Giannoulias defended his use of “brokered deposits” — under his tenure they became 68 percent of the bank’s deposits compared to the industry standard of four percent — saying Broadway did not have a lot of branches and ATMs to bring in deposits.

And what about his bank’s Mob clients? Ah, those would be “‘a few colorful characters’ — convicted bookmaker Michael Giorango, Russian mobsters Boris and Lev Stratievsky, and convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko — [who] were not representative of his portfolio. Giannoulias denied, even though he went down to Florida to inspect the properties, that he was aware of Giorango’s mob ties.”

Really, what were the Democrats thinking when they nominated him? Well, the lieutenant-governor nominee already stepped down after his domestic-violence issue came to light. So I’m not convinced that Giannoulias is going to make it all the way to November. Frankly, if there isn’t a Frank-Lautenberg-for-Robert-Torricelli game plan in the works, I think that seat is a goner for the Democrats. After all, they don’t want to fall behind (jump ahead of?) New York in the most-embarrassing-political-culture race, do they?

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Democrats Select Tony Rezko’s Banker for Illinois Senate

You almost wonder whether Karl Rove has infiltrated the Democratic Party. How else to explain how the Democrats could nominate to replace Roland Burris, the senator from Blagojevich, the banker for Tony Rezko? As the Chicago Tribune explained, state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias beat back a feisty challenger who made hay out of Giannoulias’s “handling of the state’s college loan program, which lost $150 million; and of loans Giannoulias gave to controversial recipients while working as vice-president of his family’s now-struggling Broadway Bank.” Those controversial recipients include Rezko and some figures of organized crime. The Chicago Sun Times explained:

Among the loans Giannoulias has gotten heat for:

* More than $10 million from 2001 to 2005 to alleged Father & Son Russian mobster team Lev and Boris Stratievsky. Father Lev has passed away. Son Boris is in jail facing money-laundering charges. Broadway funded development projects some on the South Side — that tenants and city attorneys complained were roach motels. Broadway has been unable to collect on the loans.

* About $12.9 million to convicted bookmaker Michael Giorango for a Miami Beach hotel and a Hollywood, Fla., restaurant, among other ventures, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Broadway has sued Giorango and his partner, Demitri Stavropoulos, convicted of running a betting operation in Chicago, seeking to get the money back. Giannoulias initially downplayed his relationship with Giorango, noting the loans to him started before he joined the bank. Later he said he went to Miami to meet Giorango and inspect the property, and that another $3 million loan to Giorango was for a South Carolina casino.

It’s hard to believe this is the candidate whom the Democrats wanted as their nominee. As Ben Smith dryly noted, Giannoulias “is about as un-changey as you get.” The Republicans are obviously delighted to have such a target-rich opponent. I suspect this will be another seat added to the political gurus’ “leans Republican” lists.

And if all that weren’t enough to worry the Democrats, Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling notes:

Based on the current numbers 885,268 voters were cast in the Democratic primary for Senate compared to 736,137 on the Republican side. Those numbers are awfully close to each other for a state that’s overwhelmingly Democratic.

For sake of comparison the last time there were competitive Senate primaries on both sides in Illinois, in 2004 when Barack Obama was nominated, there were nearly twice as many votes cast in the Democratic primary as the Republican one. 1,242,996 voted in the Democratic race to 661, 804 for the Republicans. Last night’s turnout is yet another data point on the enthusiasm gap, showing that Republicans are much more excited about this year’s elections than Democrats, even in a deep blue state.

It’s a long way to November, but Republicans will soon seize on this as a highly gettable seat with symbolic value. Had it not been for Massachusetts, one could say that the flip in the Illinois seat previously held by the president would be a political tsunami. But it seems as though in this election season, it might simply be par for the course.

You almost wonder whether Karl Rove has infiltrated the Democratic Party. How else to explain how the Democrats could nominate to replace Roland Burris, the senator from Blagojevich, the banker for Tony Rezko? As the Chicago Tribune explained, state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias beat back a feisty challenger who made hay out of Giannoulias’s “handling of the state’s college loan program, which lost $150 million; and of loans Giannoulias gave to controversial recipients while working as vice-president of his family’s now-struggling Broadway Bank.” Those controversial recipients include Rezko and some figures of organized crime. The Chicago Sun Times explained:

Among the loans Giannoulias has gotten heat for:

* More than $10 million from 2001 to 2005 to alleged Father & Son Russian mobster team Lev and Boris Stratievsky. Father Lev has passed away. Son Boris is in jail facing money-laundering charges. Broadway funded development projects some on the South Side — that tenants and city attorneys complained were roach motels. Broadway has been unable to collect on the loans.

* About $12.9 million to convicted bookmaker Michael Giorango for a Miami Beach hotel and a Hollywood, Fla., restaurant, among other ventures, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Broadway has sued Giorango and his partner, Demitri Stavropoulos, convicted of running a betting operation in Chicago, seeking to get the money back. Giannoulias initially downplayed his relationship with Giorango, noting the loans to him started before he joined the bank. Later he said he went to Miami to meet Giorango and inspect the property, and that another $3 million loan to Giorango was for a South Carolina casino.

It’s hard to believe this is the candidate whom the Democrats wanted as their nominee. As Ben Smith dryly noted, Giannoulias “is about as un-changey as you get.” The Republicans are obviously delighted to have such a target-rich opponent. I suspect this will be another seat added to the political gurus’ “leans Republican” lists.

And if all that weren’t enough to worry the Democrats, Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling notes:

Based on the current numbers 885,268 voters were cast in the Democratic primary for Senate compared to 736,137 on the Republican side. Those numbers are awfully close to each other for a state that’s overwhelmingly Democratic.

For sake of comparison the last time there were competitive Senate primaries on both sides in Illinois, in 2004 when Barack Obama was nominated, there were nearly twice as many votes cast in the Democratic primary as the Republican one. 1,242,996 voted in the Democratic race to 661, 804 for the Republicans. Last night’s turnout is yet another data point on the enthusiasm gap, showing that Republicans are much more excited about this year’s elections than Democrats, even in a deep blue state.

It’s a long way to November, but Republicans will soon seize on this as a highly gettable seat with symbolic value. Had it not been for Massachusetts, one could say that the flip in the Illinois seat previously held by the president would be a political tsunami. But it seems as though in this election season, it might simply be par for the course.

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