Monday, November 10, 2008

Minnesota: Coleman in on the Vennes Party

Recently, we noted a piece in the Minnesota Independent which observed 6th District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann withdrew her support for the clemency application of Frank Vennes Jr., who was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison in 1987 after conviction for money laundering, illegal firearm sales and cocaine distribution. On September 24th, Vennes' home was raided by federal agents in connection with a fraud investigation and Bachmann immediately wrote a letter to the Office of the Pardon Attorney (DOJ) withdrawing her support. The Independent suggested the original letter of support for Vennes’ pardon was "so unusual" because he was not even Bachmann's constituent. He had, however, contributed a total of $27,400 to her since 2005.

Now, the Minnesota Independent reports Norm Coleman added his name to the list of Vennes supporters just two months after his election to the U.S. Senate. Coleman wrote "President George W. Bush c/o Karl Rove” in December of 2002, saying he was “well acquainted" with the case and suggesting additional support for clemency was coming from former Minnesota GOP Chairman Ron Eibensteiner and Governor-Elect Tim Pawlenty. Coleman sent a second letter to the Office of Pardon Attorney in December 2004.

The Independent reports Vennes and his immediate family "have contributed heavily to Norm Coleman’s campaigns directly or indirectly."

Frank Vennes gave Coleman’s campaign committees $2,000 prior to Coleman’s pardon letter. However, he gave $8,000 to the Rally for Leadership Fund, which is controlled by Rep. John Kline, on July 19, 2002. A month later, the Rally for leadership Fund kicked in $168,000 to Coleman’s campaign, and four months later, Senator-elect Coleman wrote his first pardon recommendation letter for Vennes. Vennes also gave $5,000 in 2003 to Coleman’s North Star Leadership PAC, a political action committee controlled by Jeff Larson, Coleman’s Washington, DC, landlord and political consultant. Vennes’ brother, Gregory, gave Coleman $1,000 in 2001.
See story here.

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