Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Aside from the savings and loan incident,

Mr. Greenwood has led an admirable life

Yes, and aside from the body parts in his refrigerator, Jeffrey Dahmer was a fastidious housekeeper!

But those are the words of then-senator Norm Coleman in support of a pardon for Harold "Hal" Greenwood.

Attention has been paid recently to the request by Michele Bachmann and others to get a presidential pardon for convicted money launder and coke and gun runner, Frank Vennes. Michele's support of Frank was withdrawn before the pardon could be denied and after Vennes was implicated in the Petters ponzi scheme.

At least Coleman's pitch on behalf of Greenwood had the virtue of being on behalf of a constituent. But there is a remarkable similarity in the story arcs in the two cases, at least as told to the U.S. pardon attorney. As their respective champions relate, both Greenwood and Vennes found "faith," were doing good works, especially on behalf of "at risk" kids, and were completely rehabilitated; they just needed that ol' blot on their escutcheon removed in order to kick their generosity up a notch.

Here's how ProPublica, which has done a pretty extensive investigation of the pardon business recently, describes the "savings and loan incident"
Nearly a decade earlier, Greenwood had been convicted of conspiracy, misapplication of funds, filing false reports to regulators, and racketeering. He was sentenced in 1992 to a 46-month prison term after the failure of Midwest Federal Savings and Loan, a collapse that cost taxpayers $1.2 billion.
Goodness, we're just lucky it wasn't serious! That's 1.2 billion in 90s dollars, by the way.

The "decade earlier" that ProPublica refers to is before Jim Oberstar wrote to the pardon attorney on behalf of Greenwood in 2000. Arne Carlson supported Greenwood, too. (The application for the pardon was ultimately denied.)

That's how it works. In addition to Bachmann, Walter Mondale, Coleman, Tim Pawlenty, and GOP chieftan Ron Ebensteiner all made a pitch for Vennes.

According to the ProPublica investigation, support of a congressional figure -- and a governor or two doesn't hurt! -- is just about a sine qua non for the grant of a pardon. That support hardly guaranties a pardon, but you're very unlikely to get one without it.

The way you get the attention of a politician, regrettably, is with campaign contributions, and the more the better.

Thanks to blogger sidekick Aaron for calling this story to my attention.

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