Thursday, December 23, 2010
Pawlenty judicial appointment is former lobbyist for convicted money launderer Frank Vennes Jr.
Is pick further Pawlenty payoff for campaign contributor Vennes?
By Karl Bremer
The relationship between Tim Pawlenty and convicted money launderer and cocaine/gun trafficker Frank Vennes Jr. got a little thicker last week with Pawlenty’s appointment of Plymouth lawyer Jamie L. Anderson to the 4th Judicial District Court. Anderson is a former lobbyist for Vennes, working on criminal justice issues from 2006-07. Anderson currently works for Howse & Thompson, P.A., the law office of Vennes’ former personal attorney, Craig Howse.
Pawlenty, as you’ll recall, signed onto a 2002 letter requesting a presidential pardon for Vennes, who has been implicated but never charged in the Tom Petters Ponzi swindle. Pawlenty subsequently took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Vennes and his family.
Howse also has political ties to Pawlenty. He and his wife, Lisa, have contributed a total of $5,600 to Pawlenty’s campaigns since 2002.
Howse also was chairman of the Fidelis Foundation, which donated over $1.4 million to Minnesota Teen Challenge, an organization with close ties to Vennes and Pawlenty. Vennes and Pawlenty’s wife, Mary, served on the board of Minnesota Teen Challenge together.
The Fidelis Foundation, based in Plymouth, Minn., is a nonprofit organization “organized to assist Christians in discerning, clarifying and implementing God’s call and direction in their life,” according to the group’s tax filings. The organization used to lease office space from Howse for $1,300 a month.
Vennes also was heavily involved in Fidelis, which invested over $27 million in the Petters Ponzi--more than $4 million of it from Minnesota Teen Challenge.
Pawlenty has yet to explain his apparently close personal relationship with the ex-con Vennes.
H/t to Andy Birkey at Minnesota Independent.