As has been expected for some time now, the SEIU Illinois Council (which sponsors this website) formally endorsed Alexi Giannoulias this morning in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. As our reporting shows, SEIU and Giannoulias became strong allies in the fight this ...
As has been expected for some time now, the SEIU Illinois Council (which sponsors this website) formally endorsed Alexi Giannoulias this morning in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. As our reporting shows, SEIU and Giannoulias became strong allies in the fight this spring to save suitmaker Hartmarx Inc. from bankruptcy. As with his official campaign launch, several workers were on hand at the press conference today to show their support for his candidacy, including Hartmarx union leader Ruby Sims, who said, "We thank Alexi Giannoulias for standing by our side. It's now our turn to stand by you." Some excerpts from the event:
In response to this news, David Hoffman's campaign joined the Illinois Republicans today in attempting to use the SEIU endorsement to tie Giannoulias to Rod Blagojevich. From a blog post on his campaign website:
The National GOP is champing at the bit to make the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Illinois all about former Governor Rod Blagojevich. This morning, the Alexi Giannoulias campaign is serving them up a free punch, trotting out an endorsement from the union leadership that was Blago's biggest supporter and whose president was completely enmeshed in the controversy over Rod’s attempt to sell this Senate seat. (He even appears on the infamous Blagojevich wiretap!)
You can bet Giannoulias will sit silently on the dais and smile broadly as he receives the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leadership, just as he did when the Blagojevich controversy first surfaced. He doesn't rock the boat, and he's no doubt excited about stepping up to the same trough that netted Blagojevich more than a million dollars in campaign cash.
Saying that Balanoff was "completely enmeshed in the controversy over Rod’s attempt to sell this Senate seat" is just way over-the-top.
The federal complaint shows that Blagojevich at one point approached Balanoff about his hackneyed scheme to secure a high-profile position -- at a national union, a D.C. non-profit, or in the Obama administration -- in return for the Senate seat selection. But there is no evidence that Balanoff ever did anything but hear that proposition. In fact, in the White House report (PDF) on administration contacts with the Blagojevich camp, Valerie Jarrett recalls Balanoff saying that he made clear to the governor "that it would never happen" -- "it" being the idea of him gaining a cabinet appointment.
If Balanoff were "completely enmeshed," he'd likely be a subject of the feds' investigation. Instead, he is a cooperating witness.
Responding to Hoffman's overheated attack, Capitol Fax's Rich Miller also makes a good point, noting that SEIU Illinois has "done a lot for causes that Hoffman supposedly espouses. It has worked on issues with good government types like Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, who has endorsed Hoffman. Sen. Schoenberg has received thousands of dollars in contributions from SEIU over the years."
Indeed, Schoenberg was one of four elected officials who stood by Hoffman at his campaign launch earlier this month. The other three were State Sen. Susan Garrett (who has accepted $23,000 from SEIU Illinois since 2002), State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (who took $6,000 from the union last year), and Chicago Ald. Joe Moore (who has received over $100,000 from SEIU Illinois in recent years).
Will Hoffman also question them about "stepping up to the same trough" as Blagojevich? Seems doubtful.
Finally, here is the Giannoulias campaign's statement in response:
The working men and women of SEIU have fought for progressive policies, independent leaders and middle class families and Alexi Giannoulias is proud to stand with them and their fight to change Washington. It is not lost on us or progressives to see Hoffman, a guy who worked for ultra conservative judges Rehnquist and Jacobs, echo a Republican smear campaign against working families.