Governor Gutshot, who recently proclaimed himself as the no-clemency candidate, apparently did join then Senator-elect Coleman and then Republican Party Chair Ron Ebensteiner in trying to obtain a federal pardon for Tom Petters’ associate Frank “I found God in prison” Vennes, who had served time, and was still apparently “on paper,” for money laundering, cocaine distribution, and illegal firearms possession. Gutshot was a “then elect” at the time, too.
Karl Bremer at Liberal in the Land of Conservatives knits this story together pretty well, and you should read his post at the link.
Here’s a portion of a letter sent by Norm Coleman to Karl Rove, addressing him as “Karl” in December of 2002:
If you click on the link, which will take you to an image of the letter itself, you will see that Coleman wrote it on Senate stationery even though he wouldn’t be sworn in until the next month. This is known in some circles as chutzpa.
As Karl reports, no actual pardon request letter from Pawlenty has yet surfaced, and Pawlenty’s office has thus far refused comment. So there really are two possibilities: Coleman was conveying Tim Pawlenty’s sentiments, or he was lying about it. Take you pick.
But in making up your mind, you should know this: Pawlenty’s campaign coffers were the beneficiaries of substantial contributions from Vennes and his family:
Vennes and his family have contributed thousands of dollars to Pawlenty’s gubernatorial campaigns. Kimberly Vennes (Frank’s wife), Gregory Vennes, Stephanie Vennes (Gregory’s wife), and Colby and Denley Vennes, who have shared an address with Frank and Kimberly, each donated $2,000 to the Pawlenty for Governor Committee in 2002. Frank, Kimberly, Gregory, Stephanie, Colby and Denley Vennes each contributed $250 to Pawlenty in 2004 and $2,000 apiece in 2006.
And then there is this:
If Tim Pawlenty decides to run for President of the United States, at some point he’s going to have to explain his relationship with campaign contributor, Tom Petters associate and convicted money-launderer/cocaine-and-gun runner Frank Vennes Jr.
This relationship is especially relevant in light of Pawlenty’s recent donation of nearly $86,000 from his defunct gubernatorial campaign fund to Minnesota Teen Challenge (MnTC), a controversial Christian chemical dependency program that was once closely affiliated with Vennes and allegedly lost millions on account of that affiliation.
Apparently, Frank Vennes and Mrs. Governor Gutshot served a time together as board members of the Minnesota Teen Challenge.
Vennes has not been indicted or convicted (so far) in l'affaire Petters, but he clearly had a role. Again, according to Karl Bremer’s post:
According to the federal search warrant, Vennes was alleged to have hauled in more than $28 million in commissions for his role in luring five investors to pony up $1.2 billion in Petters’ alleged giant Ponzi scheme. On Oct. 6, the assets and records of Vennes, Petters, Petters’ companies and other Petters associates were frozen by a federal judge, and many seized assets of Vennes and Petters have been sold off to compensate victims of the alleged fraud.
It looks like Tim Pawlenty suffered from the same “leniency for people who claimed to have gotten religion” as Mike Huckabee. Imagine that.
A big thump of the tail to Ken Avidor for following the Petters’ trial and bringing this all to Spot’s attention. He did the illustration, too.