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Giannoulias Goes On the Offensive

Blake D. Dvorak

At a press conference today Alexi Giannoulias, who's taken his hits recently from all sides, went on the attack against Mark Kirk. From the AP:

At a news conference Thursday, Giannoulias criticized Kirk's legislative record on banking regulation. He says Kirk voted to bail out Wall Street firms but opposed attempts at reform.

A Kirk campaign spokesman hasn't returned messages seeking comment.

Well, the Kirk campaign has responded with that ol' campaign stand-by, "The Fact Check." Here's a portion of what the campaign sent out:

FACT: Congressman Kirk was among the first members of Congress to support financial reforms.  In 2005, while Alexi Giannoulias was making risky loans at Broadway Bank, Mark Kirk was one of only 73 members of Congress - Republican or Democrat - who voted to tighten regulations at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  (Source:

FACT: Congressman Kirk also remains a leading proponent of cracking down on Wall Street criminals.  In 2008, Congressman Kirk joined Congressman Chris Carney (D-PA) in calling on the FBI to increase funding dedicated to White Collar Crime investigations.  (New York Times, "F.B.I. Struggles to Handle Financial Fraud Cases," 10/18/2008)

FACT: With regard to legislation giving more control over the private sector to the Treasury Department, here is what Congressman Kirk told the Chicago Tribune: "We quickly forget that it was our government-run financial institutions - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - that caused this crisis.  With huge taxpayer losses in General Motors, AIG and Citibank, we should not put our trust in the management of the U.S. Treasury Department.  Instead of putting the power in the hands of the Treasury Secretary, we should use the independent Risk Authority Board to alert us when large institutions enter crisis and provide specific authorities to Federal judges to intervene." (Congressman Kirk, Chicago Tribune Questionnaire, 2010 Primary)
Kirk needs to be a bit careful here. The whole anti-banker stuff is mostly coming from the left and Democrats. Although the Tea Partiers and others on the right are very upset at bailing out these banks, their issue has much more to do with spending than with anti-Wall Street/banker sentiment.

Now Kirk certainly wants to pick off as many Independents and Democrats as he can, so at one level attacking Giannoulias the Banker is not bad politics. But if he starts harping too much on all the ways he attempted to rein in Wall Street, he'll start alienating supporters on the right -- the very folks who think Kirk should be grateful he has their support at all.

Which is why Kirk needs to keep his line of attack on Giannoulias the Incompetent; Giannoulias the Big Spender; Giannoulias the Inside-Deal-Maker. You get the point. Otherwise, conservatives might start thinking that their concerns about Kirk -- that he'll shift according to political necessity -- were more than idle.



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