It's curtains for Ali G

by Dan Proft |
May 9, 2010, 7:34am


Who would have thought that pawn broker Scott Lee Cohen, the deposed Democrat Lt. Governor candidate, would have turned out to be a more competent lender than former Democrat golden boy Ali G?

I guess Cohen should have played basketball with the President.

The "Ali G" I refer to is Alexi Giannoulias. The nickname is ripped from the fictional interviewer created by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Giannoulias' comedic campaign for the U.S. Senate would normally be the stuff of fiction but this is Illinois.

Thanks to his family's bank, Ali G became a multi-millionaire. With a ready-made narrative and blank checkbook, Ali G then became State Treasurer.

But when federal regulators closed Broadway Bank on Friday, Ali G cast himself as a victim and pulled out the old "blame the dead guy" routine. In this case, the dead guy is his father.

"After months of struggling to get out from under the weight of the collapsed economy, my father's business was sold," is what Ali G had to say. Ali G is just an innocent bystander now. If you have questions about Broadway's risky business strategy or the rogues' gallery of bookmakers, pimps, and money launderers to whom the bank lent tens of millions of dollars, well, you'll just have to ask dear old dad except, sorry, he's dead.

But it wasn't always that way. In better times for both the bank and his political ambitions, Ali G was happy to take the credit and the money. Between 2001 and 2009, Ali G and family paid themselves $147 million out of Broadway's equity. Now, while the FDIC is covering $400 million in losses by his family's bank, Ali G is out railing against "Wall Street greed" and corporate "recklessness."

But, even in Illinois, Ali G's attempts to pivot the campaign away from the bank won't work. What is he going to talk about, losing half the valuation of the Bright Start college savings plan while State Treasurer?

The White House can either try to repeal and replace Ali G or Mark Kirk can start measuring the drapes for his new Senate office.

Either way, when the black curtains went up at Broadway Bank on Friday the curtain came down on Ali G's Senate campaign.

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