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Should Giannoulias' lending record matter?

Maureen Wilkey

Writer on real estate from any angle

Over the last few weeks as the Giannoulias family's Broadway Bank has come  into news headlines for nearly failing. Alexi Giannoulias, now the Democratic party candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rolan Burris, is coming under fire for his possible involvement in the bank's  lending problems.  A good summary of the issues is available here from the New York Times.

Alexi has avoided answering a lot of questions, although NYT cites that he is reponsible for 9 percent, or almost $22 million of the bank's bad loans.

When you look at it, $22 million over the four years he worked at the bank is a drop in the bucket. $22 million accounts for probably between 20 and 50 home loans. I think the bigger question may be what percentage of the loans he approved were bad loans, and also what percentage of loans he actually approved.  While he may have been present for some of the larger discussions about construction and development loans, he was clearly never the sole decision maker on those pieces.

The other issue should be whether or not he's willing to accept accountabilty. In Illinois right now, it's probably better to come out and say it if you've made a mistake rather than attempting to get by.

The main issue we should be looking at, though, is Giannoulias' performance as State Treasurer. His voice will be just one of one hundred in the Senate, but his policy is more visible from his experience in government than his experience in banking. Not to say his lending record shouldn't matter at all, but it should represent just a piece of how we see him as a candidate- and a much smaller piece than the political decisions he's made over the last four years.



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