Friday, July 15, 2011

Bremer on Vennes, Part II

At Ripple in Stillwarter, Karl Bremer has posted the second in a three-part series on the "political pardon of Frank Elroy Vennes, Jr. Vennes' application for federal executive clemency was originally filed with the Office of the Pardon Attorney on July 12, 2000. Bremer writes that John D. Raffaelli, "one of Capitol Hill’s leading lobbyists with The Washington Group," referred Vennes to Margaret Colgate Love, a former U.S. Pardon Attorney now in private practice. But President Clinton never acted on application.

The application was, however, referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office November 6, 2000, returned to the Office of Pardon Attorney November 27 and then referred to the FBI on March 29, 2001. It already had been referred to Vennes' probation officer and the U.S. Attorney's office in North Dakota."

Bremer then meticulously begins to trace an impressive series of campaign contributions before writing, "Vennes’ pardon petition was referred back to the U.S. Attorney’s Office September 4, 2002." He then notes:
Normally, according to sources familiar with the process, the Deputy Attorney General would sign off the OPA’s recommendation and send it on to the White House. In this case, however, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson sat on it for six months and then returned it to the OPA.
Again, as Bremer documents, the campaign contributions kept on flowing. On December 3, 2004, Norm Coleman wrote a second letter supporting pardon for Vennes. Four weeks later, the application was referred back to the FBI, and returned to the OPA one week later. On April 29, 2005, the application was sent back to the Deputy Attorney General, and, Bremer writes, Roger Adams sent a memo "with an apparent recommendation to approve it."

Interestingly, Vennes’ file was referred back to the Office of Pardon Attorney December 2005. And the campaign contributions from Frank Vennes and his family members were littered all around each of these movements. In March, the application was sent to the FBI a third time and, Bremer writes, there followed "a flurry of activity in April between the FBI, Pardon Attorney and Deputy Attorney General."

In April 2006, the Office of Pardon Attorney sent a memo to Deputy Attorney General "with what appears to be a recommendation to deny Vennes’ pardon." It then appears Vennes' application was then referred back to the Pardon Attorney in July 2007, and then the FBI.

Thousands and thousands of dollars in campaign contributions later, a letter of support from Michelle Bachmann appeared on the scene in December of 2007. In March of 2008, Vennes’ pardon petition was returned from the FBI. A new Pardon Attorney sent a memo to the Deputy Attorney with an apparent recommendation to deny on June 3.  Just over three weeks later, counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, sent a memo to the Pardon Attorney  with "an apparent reference to a directive to change the pardon denial to a pardon approval." One day later, the Pardon Attorney sent the "revised" report. On July 1, a "final memo" was sent to the Counsel to the President.

Bremer writes:
Vennes’ pardon petition remained at the White House, apparently awaiting the end-of-term pardon approvals by the president. It was returned to the Office of Pardon Attorney October 24 following the raids on Vennes’ homes in Minnesota and Florida. Based on secret FBI recordings of conversations of Tom Petters from September 8, 2008, it’s now known that Vennes was expecting his pardon to be granted.
 See Part Two of this series here.

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