Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann probably wish they hadn’t written pardon letters for Frank Vennes. So do the victims of his con game.
Looks as if Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann got some ‘splainin to do. Michelle Goldberg has the gory details.
Short version: former pawnshop owner, convicted of money laundering and gun and cocaine offenses, finds Jesus in prison, comes out, makes a ton of money steering his fellow fundamentalists into what turns out to be a Ponzi scheme. Crook makes heavy campaign contributions to Bachmann and Pawlenty, who duly write letters supporting a Presidential pardon (which GWB is too smart to deliver). Crook gets busted. Pols have egg on faces.
Author: Mark Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out.
Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken)
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist
Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993)
Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989)
View all posts by Mark Kleiman
10 thoughts on “The faith-based con man and the right-wing pols”
High ranking GOP pols associated with religious con man.
In other news, dog bites man.
The chronology seems to indicate that they were seeking the pardon before it was discovered he was running a Ponzi scheme. I’m not sure why you’d relate the events out of order as you did, except out of a desire to confuse people on this point.
If the point is that politicians should be generally very careful about urging pardons for contributors, I’d agree.
They didn’t know. They couldn’t know. It would have taken a whole half dozen or so calls by a decent investigator to uncover the scam, which had only been going on for 5-10 years at the time. And nothing in the guy’s personality suggested he might not be on the level. Oh, wait.
Running a Ponzi scheme in the ’00s has all the scandal suction of having taken drugs in the ’70s or drag racing in the ’50s. All the kids were doing it.
(which GWB is too smart to deliver)
Now THERE’S a line you don’t see every day. Especially from Mark. Now where is my camera…
Brett, how exactly did Mark get the sequence of events wrong? It looks to me like he got it exactly right.
1. “former pawnshop owner, convicted of money laundering and gun and cocaine offenses, finds Jesus in prison, comes out, makes a ton of money steering his fellow fundamentalists into what turns out to be a Ponzi scheme.”
That’s all correct, isn’t it? He apparently began raising money for PCI in 1995, according to the linked article.
2. “Crook makes heavy campaign contributions to Bachmann and Pawlenty, who duly write letters supporting a Presidential pardon”
That’s also correct, isn’t it? The article cites campaign contributions to Pawlenty in 2002 and Bachmann in 2006 (he was apparently Bachmann’s largest donor). Pawlenty was listed in Coleman’s 2002 letter as supporting a pardon, and Bachmann wrote a letter in 2007 asking for a pardon.
3. “Crook gets busted.”
Also correctly sequenced. Vennes was indicted last week.
So what’s your problem? I could understand if you were objecting to Mark’s failure to note that Bachmann recently “retracted” her request for a pardon. But you didn’t say anything about that. You just (falsely) accused Mark of “relating the events out of order” when he actually got the order exactly right.
The religious right is drawn, almost by definition, to the born-again commitment to embracing those with personal “demons”. This is a benefit, as it attracts the faithful. But maybe the downside is that it attracts the pathological (not to mention, the repressed).
Now THEREâ€™S a line you donâ€™t see every day. Especially from Mark.
I’d like to double down on Mark’s better Bush side; just this once:
The particle detector that will revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos is now safely strapped to the side of the ISS.
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer got into space because in 2008 Bush ordered an extra shuttle mission.
I doubt any one of the current GOPs running would support science at the level today.
In fact, they’d probably fall over each other in their urgency to defund it.
So yes let me be the first to say it:
Even GWB makes today’s GOP candidates look like dopey goofballs…
This and the Kiefer pardon! Pawlenty has some vulnerabiities.
@koreyel: I’ve never criticized Bush as being stupid, and indeed have strongly criticized those who did. One of the earliest posts on the RBC (before it even was the RBC) was headed “Bush is an Idiot: NOT!” He was and is intellectually lazy and morally unserious, and managed to keep himself badly educated while passing through Yale and Harvard, but in raw smarts I doubt he’s the inferior of either of the men he beat for the Presidency. He’d lose to them at chess, but he’d clobber them at poker.
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