Giannoulias’ close association to Obama, even if Obama does not formally endorse him, could be a big advantage to Giannoulias in a crowded primary, especially if no major African-American candidate jumps into the mix.
Giannoulias, 32, was born in Chicago to Greek parents, played professional basketball in Greece and got to know Obama shooting hoops on the University of Chicago campus when Giannoulias was a student and Obama a senior lecturer. He was a vice president in his family’s Broadway Bank before being elected Treasurer.
Giannoulias faced heat last year when he had to testify about a $1 million loan he made to an 86-year-old woman described by her family as “feeble-minded.” The woman initially applied for the loan with co-borrowers who had a history of fraud allegations against them. After Giannoulias raised concerns, they were taken off as co-borrowers and he approved the loan. A judge ruled Giannoulias handled the loan properly.