The National Republican Senatorial Committee is none too subtle with this ad, which ends with the tag line, “Alexi Giannoulias. He would make Tony Soprano proud.” Tough stuff, and not hard to predict that by employing negative ethnic stereotypes it will spark some controversy.
Of course, Giannoulias is Greek, not Italian, and Illinois is known for its attention to, or obsession with, the finer points of ethnic politics. It will be interesting to see how national Democrats respond. Giannoulias, who is often described as a Barack Obama basketball buddy, has previously received the Obama seal of approval, as this ad shows from a prior race for Treasurer. (Obama did not take sides in this year’s senate primary.)
More to come on this front. Stay tuned.
As for the substantive charge in the story, it is not new. Giannoulias faced charges of alleged mob ties during his primary campaign, from other Democrats. The Chicago Tribune summarized the facts behind the allegations this way in a profile a couple of weeks back.
During the treasurer campaign, the Tribune revealed Broadway Bank had loaned millions of dollars to Michael Giorango, a convicted bookmaker and prostitution ring promoter. At first, Giannoulias played down the relationship but later admitted he met Giorango in Miami to inspect property the bank had financed. Giannoulias also backtracked on comments that none of the loans went for casinos, when one in Myrtle Beach did. There has been no suggestion the loans were illegal.