Monday, May 19, 2008

Me, Too

When Alexi Giannoulias ran for Illinois State Treasurer, he had to duck an unpleasant fact about his past. As an executive at his family's bank, he had approved a loan to a known member of Chicago's Outfit. He was the banker to the Mob, an unpleasant appellation that hung around his neck but did not upset the voters who followed the Machine's marching orders.

Illinois' finances are in a very poor state, although Mr. Giannoulias has no control over the budget overruns and the insanity of the sitting governor. Even so, when the time comes for re-election, what does he point to with pride and trumpet as a grand accomplishment?

The wheels are in motion, albeit in a "Me, too" sort of way. The name of William Cellini arose during the course of the Tony Rezko trial, in that Mr. Cellini the Republican power-broker held a fund-raiser for Democrat Rod Blagojevich. It's all about reaching across the aisle, isn't it....reaching for the pay-out, the cut of the action.

Mr. Giannoulias is going to release a report that describes one such sleazy deal, in which Mr. Cellini and pals obtained a loan from the state to open a hotel in Springfield. Terms were generous, to the point that the loan was never repaid. The Treasurer's report will describe the scam in operation, where money was diverted to cover Christmas gifts and creative accounting hid any profit that would have required some payment made on the loan. Patrick Fitzgerald's probe brought the filth up for air, and now Mr. Giannoulias would like to gain some political capital, riding Mr. Fitzgerald's coat tails with an expose carrying his name.

The original loan? That was concocted by Jim Thompson, the Republican Governor of Illinois. And when Mr. Cellini and his cohorts couldn't make their payments? Mr. Thompson reached across the aisle and renegotiated the loan with the help of Treasurer Jerome Cosentino. Democrat. That's the sort of reaching across the aisle that Senator Barack Obama knows so well. It's how it's done in Illinois.

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