Setting the record straight on the Republican “Fact Check”: Alexi for Illinois campaign

Washington insider Mark Kirk released a grossly misleading “fact check” this afternoon that distorts Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias‘ record. Below, the Alexi for Illinois campaign sets the record straight.


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KIRK SPIN: On January 26, 2010, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the FDIC ordered Broadway Bank to “cease and desist from engaging in unsafe and unsound banking practices.”

THE TRUTH: This is boilerplate language in consent decrees entered into by the FDIC and banks.

KIRK SPIN: From 2002 to 2006, Alexi Giannoulias increased Construction & Development loans from $80 million to $356 million – expanding such risky investments from 25 percent to 46 percent of the bank’s total loan portfolio.

THE TRUTH: Real estate has historically been one of the safest investments, and it was on this belief that Alexi’s father built Broadway Bank. While Broadway was capitalized to weather a significant drop in the real estate market and was diversified in different geographical regions, few would have predicted the economic mess caused by bad policy on Wall Street and in Washington that resulted in a 30 to 40 percent fall in the commercial real estate market. Alexi’s family business received none of the bailout money that Mark Kirk pushed for his Wall Street contributors, but is bearing the brunt of the disastrous economic policies created by Mark Kirk and his friends on Wall Street.

KIRK SPIN: From 2002 to 2006, Alexi Giannoulias increased the bank’s brokered deposits (also known as “hot money“) fourfold to $640 million. The typical bank at this point was growing brokered deposits at about 9 percent a year.

THE TRUTH: Small- and mid-sized banks operate differently than large Wall Street firms. They don’t have the advertising budget or the retail locations to attract depositors and sell CDs, so many community banks acquire deposits through a market-based process called brokered deposits, which is often less expensive and more stable than other instruments that small banks could use. This is real money, not like some of the derivatives and other shady instruments that brought down Wall Street firms. It allows community banks to raise deposits efficiently and use that money to lend to small businesses.

KIRK SPIN: When Alexi Giannoulias left the bank, the ratio of brokered deposits to total assets at Broadway was 68 percent, according to FDIC records. The average for all federally insured banks nationwide was 4.5 percent.

THE TRUTH: There are numerous instruments that small and mid-sized banks use to fund their loans. Broadway managed the use of brokered deposits as it grew, and the problems it is currently facing have nothing to do with these deposits.

KIRK SPIN: From 2006 through 2009, the Giannoulias family took over $100 million in dividend payments out of the bank – money that could have been used to shore up capital reserves.

THE TRUTH: When Mark Kirk ends his three-decade stint in Washington, DC, he needs to take a course in Accounting 101. As with any S corporation, all profit or losses pass through to the shareholders as income. Taxes are not paid by the bank, but by the individual shareholders as income taxes in the following fiscal year. As with most S corporations, the bank pays dividends to its shareholders to cover those state and federal taxes, which average 40 percent of total income. Nearly all dividend payments made by the bank were to cover these tax payments. Alexi provided the press with a full accounting of annual income and dividends from the bank – information that is readily available on if the Republican attack machine would like to review the facts.

Even when the final dividends were paid out in June 2008, the bank was capitalized at levels nearly twice as high as what the FDIC recommends, and above its peer group. These dividends are reviewed annually by regulators.

KIRK SPIN: In 2006, the bank set aside $2.2 million as a provision against loan losses, a safety measure that federal regulators require banks to take. Despite its large increase in risky loans, Broadway only doubled its bad-loan reserve in the time Mr. Giannoulias was there.

THE TRUTH: Every year, Broadway Bank put most of its profits back into the bank rather than paying them out to shareholders as profit. This recapitalization made the bank stronger and helped it to grow. The technical set-aside known as “loan loss reserves” is based on a complicated formula as per FASB accounting rules and is then certified by the Bank’s accountants and auditors. At the time Alexi left the bank there was absolutely no question that the allowance for loans and leases was adequate.

KIRK SPIN: But, Giannoulias said, he did his due diligence on those loans and never knowingly gave loans to people linked to organized crime.

Most banks do not do criminal background checks on their loan applicants but rather lend based on credit worthiness, collateral and property valuation. Because of banking regulations that were strictly followed by the bank, all of these loans were legal and reviewed by state and federal regulators. Any suggestion that these few loans had any relationship to the banks current problems is a lie.

The real problem is Mark Kirk taking millions of contributions from Wall Street, and then voting for the bail out and voting repeatedly to protect outrageous executive bonuses financed by taxpayers. That’s what Washington insiders like Mark Kirk do.