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April 25, 2024

COD- Political Endorsements fail the public? – Part II

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On March 26, 2015

DuPage Co. (ECWd)

I greatly appreciate the Daily Herald’s response to our article on Political Endorsements Fail the Public posted here as well as the comments sent in on our tip line. I will address their comment in order to provide a perspective of who we are and how we approach things. In addition, I will address a couple of interesting comments we received from citizens that point to the very reason we ran the first article.

  • This guy was endorsed by State Representative Grant Wherli, Dupage GOP and the Daily Herald.
  • I hope that whoever wrote this article will do some more digging to determine the truth, rather than make assumptions that may unnecessarily smear someone who may not deserve it. My information could be incorrect, but this issue deserves more light”.

As I pointed out in our first article on this matter, former Governor Edgar endorsed Roger Eddy. That did not stop us from shining the light and exposing Roger Eddy as a bad example of a political leader who ended up resigning from three public funded occupations less than a month after the gubernatorial endorsement.

My point is, I don’t care who has endorsed a candidate because more often than not those endorsements mean very little to the common citizen who continues to be hoodwinked by the political power brokers in their communities. History has also shown us that local political influence plays a key role in those endorsements and I think most of us would like to know about those connections and the details behind them.

For example:  The DuPage Business Council is To advise and advance the mission of the DuPage County Central Committee.” They have raised $270,600.00 since their start in 2008.  

Our interest is not in raising money for candidates directly, but in creating the infrastructure and long term orientation that positions the party and its candidates to succeed in DuPage County for years to come. The relationship between the Council and the DuPage GOP is an engagement in which the Council takes the lead with its funding and related plans.”

Gambs has donated $13,500.00 to the DuPage Business Council since 2009 (Click here for Contribution report)He is a member of the Executive Committee of the DuPage Business Council. (Click here for profile information)

Gambs has donated $5,000.00 to the DuPage County Central Committee(Click here for Contribution report).

So, $18,000 later, an endorsement by the DuPage GOP should be of no surprise. Was the endorsement based on merit or purely political based on past financial support and connections to DuPage County organizations? Let’s not forget, he is also the current Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.  (Chamber Board of Directors) 

One train wreck he probably missed, as did many people, is supporting Aaron Shrock.  I bet he wishes he could get his money back on that one.  Federally, Gambs has donated over $23,000.00 to varying candidates.  (Click here for Federal donations)

I have no issue with anyone providing funding as they see fit.  That is our constitutional right.  Our goal is in no way meant to smear a candidate but instead to share as much information as possible so that the voters have an informed background that they can validate for themselves with the documents provided. I think most people agree, more information is better when it comes to public office!

As it relates to Mr. Gambs, I have met him on several occasions and we have had a very open line of communication, especially after my fist article.

It’s well known in DuPage County political circles that Matt Gambs was touted as “the” clean up guy who would turn COD around. That perception was supported by his claimed success at Diamond Bank.

This echoed in inner circles, time and again, to a point it appeared sainthood had been established. But, a motto of mine that I apply regularly is, “He who markets the most, needs to!” Does that motto apply to Matt Gambs?  You decide! I don’t get to vote in this one!

Who is this clean up guy?

He said, “I think I was a little naive in 2008,” Gambs — who had estimated that he could fix Diamond’s problems in six months — said in a July 13 interview. “You have to humble yourself, and I had to bring in people who knew a lot more about loan workouts than I did.” (See page 2 of 7 for quote)

I appreciate when a person acknowledges that they do not know enough about something, and they bring in someone who does. However, Mr. Gambs’ own words seem to acknowledge the fixing was not something for which he can take all credit, contrary to those of his inner circle backers.

What follows I have verified and validated through interviews and other research. Documentation is provided as a support tool, to help voters know more about the candidate and his background. The first article pointed to important issues that no local media have reported. Using Gambs own words, “I believe the stakeholders of the College of DuPage deserve the whole story.” (Click here for questions he responded to for My Suburban Life)

What is the whole story?

Most of the time you never know, but I did my best to share more about this candidate on behalf of the people.

The condensed version: Gambs can spot a train wreck coming and has impeccable timing for a jump to safety (my perception).

Let’s look at the Daily Herald’s comment to this article as it relates to how Mr. Gambs’ experience will serve him if elected to the COD Board. Their posted comment states Gambs was unsuccessful in his efforts to save a struggling and under capitalized bank.

Failures can lead to experience that in some cases is critical to future success. However, those failures should not be used as a foundation to justify support without far more research, in my opinion.

Maybe the Daily Herald did far more research than it appears – but, after seeing their support of Sandy Pihos, I admit concern.

Considering a news media enterprise such as The Daily Herald, they should have understood the serious threat to the Illinois’ FOIA statute in a bill that contained punitive restrictions.  Rep. Pihos’ voted for that bill and Gov. Quinn singed it into law as one of his last pieces of legislation. I can only conclude there are other local reasons behind such an endorsement, as she is a former State Representative for whatever that is worth.

Considering transparency is clearly a major need at COD, the Daily Herald’s Pihos endorsement stuns those of us who know her record in Springfield.  Anyone supporting that bill – that placed extensive financial burdens on those seeking public records, has no place in public office, in my opinion.

History establishes a pattern of success or failure. Gambs’ perspective on the failed Diamond Bank is that it was a “successful failure.”

I asked him ten questions regarding the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision’s Cease and Desist Order that he signed, to get his perspective which I believe the voters deserve. He was kind enough to answer those questions.  I thank him for that!

Question 1: Why did matters descend to a ‘cease-and-desist’?

Answer: – No civil monetary penalties (CMPs) were assessed or paid. This is an important measurement to evaluate this order. I would encourage you to pull up other orders during this time period, there are 100s, and we will see the standard language and specific case elements. I feel like I have addressed how this happened, and would welcome any stakeholder to reach out and discuss this with me. 630.669.5168

  • It appears we still don’t know why matters descended to the point of a Cease and Desist being issued. Only the fact that they did not issue civil monetary penalties. Banking regulation moves through an established sequence of regulatory actions. For instance, before reaching a “C and D,” Diamond Bank would sign a “written agreement,” followed by an “Official Notice.” Both of those would identify the same problems we see in the C and D, and each would propose steps out of the regulatory status (such as, recapitalization, new directors, reduced costs, etc.). The point here is – no one wakes up to a C and D, one descends down a long spiral. At any point thereon, Gambs could have succeeded – but, obviously, he didn’t. That’s why they arrived at the Cease and Desist, the last step before seizure or a sell off.

Question 2: What violations of law took place on your watch? (p31)

Answer: Reg O and Reg W were violations and those are the items that we self-report and were discovered during internal reviews.

  • Regulation O governs any extension of credit by a member bank to an executive officer, director, or principal shareholder of that bank, of a bank holding company of which the member bank is a subsidiary, and of any other subsidiary of that bank holding company. Specifically it prohibits a member bank from extending credit to a bank “insider” or to any of its affiliates unless the extension is made on the same terms as other loans and in accordance with underwriting procedures used for other loans, does not involve more than the normal risk of repayment, and does not present other unfavorable terms. This prohibition was violated under Gambs watch. Many refer to this as insider dealing.
  • Regulation W requires that transactions between members banks meet certain stipulations and as designates the types of companies that are affiliates of a bank; (2) specifies the types of transactions covered by the statute; (3) sets the quantitative limitations on a bank’s covered transactions with any single affiliate, and with all affiliates combined; and (4) sets forth collateral requirements for certain bank transactions with affiliates. This prohibition was violated under Gambs watch.
  • My concern with the response is he signed a Federal regulatory finding that said all of these elements had to be stopped – or prevented. To say now, in the midst of a campaign, that he was responsible for only two issues contradicts his agreement then. This gets to veracity.
  • How were the Reg O and Reg W loans made under his watch? Does this not point to a lack of internal controls? This is the same problem that bedevils COD – and allowed Valenta to go on forever.

Question 3: Why did the federal government have to order new directors, why didn’t you recruit strong directors yourself? (P28)

Answer: By the time the order came out we had already put in place one new outside directors and interviewing and recruiting a second. We needed to replace two folks from the previous board. Finding the right outside directors with skills and expertise took time.

  • Here, Gambs may have a bit of a point, but only a bit. First, he acknowledged that he had failed to recruit enough independent directors. Second, it is never easy to invite someone onto a ship that is taking on water. Third, that is the job he signed up for, so we are right to hold him accountable for not succeeding.

Question 4: If you approved any of the insider loans, please identify the loan makers and the loan amounts. (P27)

Answer: I made no insider (reg O) loans.

  • Check again up at #2 and his response, and then look closely here. At his word, he might not personally have approved the Reg. O loan(s) that booked, but they happened on his watch, when the bank was deteriorating. To be nice, this sounds like trying to have it both ways. Is this not an internal control issue?

Question 5: By the time of the C and D, you had been at Diamond for two years. Why did the federal government find your business plan to be inadequate? (P4)

Answer: The regulator process takes a while to work its way through. During the financial crisis of 2009-2010 Diamond might not have been their highest priority. From the time I got there we were working with OTS and then OCC in one form another.

  • If the plan was a viable business plan, why would the Feds find the plan to be inadequate? Gambs seems to blame the regulators for his not having a business plan. “Diamond might not have been their highest priority.” Gambs is missing the point that Diamond was his highest priority, and that more than two years in, he had failed to create a plan the Feds would approve, contrary to the claim a viable business plan was implemented.

Question 6: Please list the Golden Parachutes you allowed. (P34)

Answer: I gave no Golden Parachutes. That part of the order is put in as a proactive understanding.

Question 7: Please describe the “unsafe or unsound practices” the federal government ordered you to cease and desist. (P1)

Answer: They wanted different capital measurements and time frame for results in the plan. By the time this order was in the public we had already agreed to a plan and had several quarters of work in.

  • Here Gambs appears to play on assumed ignorance of banking regulation, as if we would not know that institutions do not start at a Cease and Desist order, they end there (see above). Diamond had already been through any number of examinations and consultations. The regulators are nothing if not clear, and they are most specific about capital-to-deposit ratios, non-performing loan ratios, tangible common equity, etc. So, Gambs’ answer erroneously implies, “We were just figuring this out when the C and D came down”. In fact, under Gambs, the unsafe and unsound practices had not been stopped under earlier interventions, and thus had to be specified in the C and D.

Question 8: Why did the federal government restrict your freedoms re employees (P36), third parties (P37), and dividends (32), and affiliates (P38)?

Answer: – These are proactive steps.

  • Let’s take another look. These are immediate restrictions, based on the regulators’ estimates of what a given management might attempt to do in a declining situation. Had the regulators placed their confidence in Gambs, these would not be necessary. One might further point out that had Gambs inspired such confidence, perhaps Diamond would never have reached this place.

Question 9: With this record, why should taxpayers think you will do differently at COD.

Answer: – This experience taught me how to bring together a team, inform and protect stakeholders with honesty and integrity. I am proud of my service at Diamond, we were able to execute a plan in very challenging conditions that lead to a positive outcome. This was accomplished without taxpayer money or backstops. I think the skills and knowledge I obtained would benefit the stakeholders of COD.

  • Diamond is fortunate to have several good branches which were themselves of value to a growing chain in the Chicago region. It is to his credit that taxpayers were not stuck with Diamond’s tab. But his leadership remains a failure – whether “successful” in his phrase, or not – in everyone else’s understanding.

Question 10: In the attached photo your bio does not mention Diamond Bank. Why is that omitted from your BIO? (Go Green BIO)

Answer: The attach bio is from a start-up that I am an investor in. I am still with the company that purchased Diamond (Wintrust), I did not put this bio up, but I take responsibility for not looking it over. If you look on LinkedIn I have Diamond Bancorp on my resume and I us that site as my professional and outward facing profile daily.

  • There is another company missing from his BIO, as well as missing from the LinkedIn account used daily by Gambs. BB&T FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC. – Matt Gambs listed as President. A company that started in April of 2002 and was involuntarily dissolved in September of 2005. This company does not appear in his LinkedIn history or the Go Green company bio. According to Gambs this was a subsidiary of the bank that was created to do insurance. “It never took off and it died on the vine”. (Click here for corporate file) (Click here for LinkedIn file)

More history

In November 2006, First Chicago Bank and Trust (First Chicago) was created following the merger of Labe Bank and Bloomingdale Bank and Trust. First Chicago was wholly owned by First Chicago Bancorp. A large stake in Bancorp was held by Castle Creek Capital (Castle Creek), a bank holding company (BHC) and private equity firm based in Rancho Santa Fe, California

Gambs was President & COO of Bloomingdale Bank & Trust (BBT) for approximately three years. They were purchased by Castle Creek capitol in 2007. He was President and COO of First Chicago Bancorp, 2006-2007 based on his LinkedIn information.

According to documents obtained from the Office of Inspector General, First Chicago Bancorp Board of Directors and Management Failed to Reduce the Bank’s Commercial Real Estate Concentration.  (Click here for OIG Report)

Mounting losses depleted the bank’s earnings and eroded capital, which prompted the State to close First Chicago and appoint the FDIC as receiver on July 8, 2011. Now keep in mind, this federal intervention was 4 years after Gambs left for his position with Diamond Bank however the information in the OIG report lays out some management concerns that took place starting in 2005 with increased commercial real estate lending, a time frame in which it appears he was the COO.

As shown on page 13 of the OIG report, Chart 3a, First Chicago’s Commercial Real Estate loan concentration as a percentage of total risk-based capital remained high and consistently exceeded both its peer group average and the thresholds described in the Federal Reserve Board’s Supervision and Regulation (SR) Letter 07-1, Interagency Guidance on Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate

Gambs left the failing First Chicago Bancorp to go to the troubled Diamond Bank. “An attorney for Mr. Gambs confirmed that he wasn’t required to pay any of the settlement and was released from liability.” – (Crains coverage of $8 Million dollar settlement)

One of the tips we received stated it would be very curious to see whether Gambs will own up to knowing Gianvecchio, or how BBT made his money, or why he was made CEO of a bank at the ripe old age of 33.

I will never fault a young (or old) person for moving up the ladder and I don’t care how they make their money, as long as it was done legally.  That being the case, I did not ask Gambs about those issues.  I did however raise the name Gianvecchio.

Hank Gianvecchio is listed as a Director of Schaumburg Bank and Trust and Bloomingdale Bank & Trust.  He was also the Bloomingdale Township Assessor for 36 years. He abruptly resigned his township assessor position in 2009. Topping off his resume, according to a Chicago Tribune article in 2005, he was also the GOP Chairman there. In short, Gianvecchio is a very well-known player in the political circles in Bloomingdale.

Gambs initially claimed to not know him and only heard of the name. That’s interesting considering Gambs donated $1,100.00 in 2005 to the Bloomingdale Township Republican Central Committee, which Hank Gianvecchio was the Chairman of. (record of donations)

How many people donate to a central committee and not know the chairman?

Gianvecchio is listed as a Director for the Bloomingdale Bank & Trust, a Wintrust community bank. Although Gambs is a Senior VP at Wintrust, he claims he did not know Gianvecchio was a Director.

It’s no secret in the political circles of Bloomingdale that Gianvecchio is well known by everyone, yet Gambs, who worked at Bloomingdale Bank & Trust from 1999-2007 clearly distanced himself from any acknowledgement of Gianvecchio. I wonder how this is possible. Especially when Gianvecchio made the Chicago Tribune for his temper tantrum at a political meeting in April of 2001. (Tribune Article on Gianvecchio-GOP Chairman)

One of Gambs other ventures, void from his LinkedIn profile, is Republic Title Financial. A venture that gave him a crash course in trust, as in trust but verify as I recall his wording.

According to court records, and I agree, his attorneys failed to convince the courts of wrong doing by the defendant. Gambs was the Plaintiff. “The court found ” [it] clear *** there are no claims – – there is no claim stated against any defendant in this case.” This loss led to his lack of love for attorneys of which I can fully appreciate. Good attorneys are hard to come by!  (Click here for the 2nd Appelage Court ruling)

It’s evident from the history, Gambs has been around a few train wrecks and best I can tell, has managed to jump to safety each time.

This article is neither an endorsement for or against Mr. Gambs. It simply shows the vast amount of information that IS NOT being exposed via the local media. Good or bad, the voters have a right to know the history of those being endorsed by their local paper and political party. I hope this information addressed the numerous calls into our hotline on this candidate.

With all this information I believe the voters have a broader picture of Mr. Gambs and can present him with questions that may not have previously ever surfaced. Questions are good, answers are better!

An informed voter base is the goal.



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  • Bill G
    Posted at 16:02h, 26 March


    Thanks for doing the heavy lifting here for us. This is a remarkable record of corruption. Clearly organized journalism is dead for local and State matters. They do not care and do not invest.

    Perhaps Mr. Gambs is seeking the position to whitewash his storied history. What bank could hire him now except where he is a ‘made’ member?

    The denied connection to his mentor, Gianvecchio, is chilling. Next you will find Mr. Gambs Dad changed his name from Gambino.

    When are garden is laid waste, such as COD has been, the first growth are weeds. It is these weeds we need to deal with April 7.


  • Dave Rogers
    Posted at 09:23h, 30 March

    So let me get this straight – COD has been shown to be more corrupt than ever believed and the Daily Herald has chosen to endorse an ex-State Representative (said to be the laziest legislator in Illinois by the Tribune), a banker (whose failed bank was taken over by the fed) and, so they could claim they are in favor of reform, Deanne Mazzochi.

    I am not sure what pressure the “powers that be” have brought to bear upon the Daily Herald to play their endorsement this way but I imagine if we were to ever find out there would be two clear coincidences. The first would most likely be that they were the same powers that have brought pressure to bear upon the DuPage Republican Party to endorse the same three candidates. The other, and much more interesting coincidence would be to find that these powers are part of the COD Foundation Board or their cronies who may have been the beneficiaries of some of the $192 million dollars of “No-Bid” contracts COD has doled out over the last few years.

    To be fair, $192 million dollars can bring a significant amount of pressure to bear. Enough for the Dupage Republican Party to spend party money in a NON-PARTISAN race. The same Dupage Republican Party who hardly spends that much money on partisan races in the general elections. But I guess that’s what pressure does. We’ve seen it at COD and now we see it at the Daily Herald and the DuPage Republican party.

    The college has only one chance to be reformed and everyone knows it. There are only three candidates who have made a public commitment to reform COD. Bernstein, Napolitano and Mazzochi. Are they perfect candidates? No. Do they have flaws? Yes. But they have committed to fix the culture of excess that has permeated almost every aspect of the Board of Trustees at COD.

    We are to believe that the Daily Herald and the DuPage Republican Party truly believe that to reform COD we should elect two long time establishment people. One, a long time State Representative who did so much for her constituents that she just lost her primary race. The other, as bank president, has faced many of the same accusations as Dr. Brueder has as president at COD. Yes, absolutely, that is exactly how we clean up and reform COD.

    I sincerely hope the citizens of DuPage County will be able to stand-up to the pressure and powers that be, a little better than the Daily Herald and DuPage Republican Party.

    It is clear that COD needs reform, the no-bid contracts, the arrest of the radio station manager, the $20 million dollar email to then Gov. Quinn, the expensing of extravagant meals and alcohol at the Waterleaf and, of course, the $762,000 golden handshake plus whatever the watchdogs uncover in the coming months. The watchdogs seem to be able to withstand the pressure. One Trustee seems to be able to withstand the pressure. She is the only one – not a single other board member has the courage or principles to do what is right, to stand up to the pressure. The only question left is – Do You?

    Vote Bernstein, Napolitano and Mazzochi.