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Giannoulias: 'We didn't know the extent of their activities'

On Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory pressed Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias to outline what he knew about loans made by his family's bank to criminal figures, including convicted felon Tony Rezko.

Giannoulias replied that, while there were individuals with "colorful pasts that we didn't want to do business with," community banks determine worthiness to receive loans based on borrowers' creditworthiness and other objective measures.

"If I knew then what I know now, these are not the kind of people that we'd do business with," he added, "but that's not how banks work."

Asked again if he knew that criminal figures were the recipients of some of those loans, Giannoulias said again, "I didn't know the extent of their activity."

Speaking to reporters after the show, Giannoulias said that the bank was aware of "rumblings" about some of the borrowers but reiterated that the decision to offer the loans was based on the borrowers' creditworthiness alone.

NBC News rates Giannoulias's race against GOP Rep. Mark Kirk a tossup.

Watch the full exchange here: