Giannoulias and Valence tear each other apart at the Secretary of State’s forum

The melee – technically a candidate forum organized by the Union League Club of Chicago – began when Valencia accused Giannoulias “of showing false things on television about my file because he had none (the his) on which to present himself”.

Beyond that, she charged, Giannoulias, when he was treasurer, presided over a nine-figure loss of investment in a college scholarship program his office administered and invested funds. public in a major ammunition producer. And before the bank collapsed, it made “shady loans to mafia figures.”

Giannoulias took umbrage, saying such attacks are “the reason why people are fed up with politics, sick and tired”. But he immediately launched the attack himself, citing media reports that Valencia had inappropriately used his office to boost his family’s income, and accused his TV ads of misrepresenting his stance on abortion. , which he said was “pro-choice”.

The moderator interrupted the conversation. But in separate interviews later, each doubled down – and to some extent, stretched the truth.

Valencia said she had nothing to do with lobbying her husband, Reyahd Kazmi, and insisted she was not under investigation in New Orleans over how she allegedly helped one of her husband’s clients get an internet service contract there.

“I’ll say it one more time,” she said, repeating a frequent recent refrain. “My husband and I have separate careers.” All she did — when asked — was explain why a city ID program she set up here that can be used for government and financial transactions might work elsewhere. , she said.

However, the New Orleans probe is not only real but continues, according to media there, with emails written by Valencia as part of the investigation.

“It seems inappropriate, but it’s not,” Valencia concluded. However, she added, working as a clerk was “a learning experience. . . .I wish I had been more careful with my work emails.

Giannoulias suggested that the bank’s collapse dates back a very long time and insisted that the institution’s collapse did “not cost taxpayers a dollar”. However, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which raises funds through bank fees, had to absorb $378 million in insurance losses.

Giannoulias also denied having, as treasurer, approved investments in an ammunition company and other companies in the firearms sector. But state records show that the Illinois pension board he served on held just over $7 million in such holdings during his tenure. Asked for comment, Giannoulias’ campaign called the accusation a “savage Hail Mary”.

Giannoulias said he flipped the scholarship program and increased his return on assets, but a recession caused some problems.

Amid verbal punches, all of the candidates promised to bring the office into the electronic age with digital licenses and the like. And Valencia and Giannoulias agreed motorcyclists of all ages should be required to wear helmets. Moore said this provision should only apply to minors, with adults free to choose for themselves.

Melvin B. Baillie