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Rove-linked group launches attack ad in Illinois Senate contest

In the race for President Obama's former Senate seat, American Crossroads targets Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias.

September 21, 2010|By Tom Hamburger, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — American Crossroads, the tax-exempt group political group founded by nationally noted GOP strategist Karl Rove and others, is making its first foray into Illinois on Wednesday with a cartoon-style ad attacking Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias for recklessness, using two widely cited allegations raised by his GOP opponent.

The race for President Obama's former Senate seat has attracted considerable attention from outside groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched an ad attacking Giannoulias in August. This week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee targeted Republican Mark Kirk with a television ad campaign of its own.

In the 30-second spot, a cutout figure of Giannoulias careens in a cartoon sports car through a Chicago landscape as a voiceover says, "He's quite a driver. He helped drive his family's bank into a ditch," a reference to his tenure at Broadway Bank, which later went in to federal receivership because of bad loans.

The ad also refers to the Bright Start college education fund, which Giannoulias was responsible for overseeing as state treasurer. The fund lost money due to poor investment decisions by an outside firm. Giannoulias has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in connection with the bank or the scholarship fund.

The ad from the GOP-allied group closes with the words: "Friends don't let friends drive Alexi."

The American Crossroads ad will run in Chicago, Springfield and St. Louis for one week at a cost of $482,000.

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