Just hours after federal agents charged banker Allen Stanford with fleecing investors of $7 billion, the disgraced financier received a message from one of Congress' most powerful members, Pete Sessions.
“I love you and believe in you,” said the e-mail sent on Feb. 17. “If you want my ear/voice — e-mail,” it said, signed “Pete.”
The message from the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee represents one of the many ties between members of Congress and the indicted banker that have caught the attention of federal agents.
I don't know about you, but the mental image of Stanford with his tongue in Sessions' ear makes me more than the usual nauseous.
Agents are examining campaign dollars, as well as lavish Caribbean trips funded by Stanford for politicians and their spouses, feting them with lobster dinners and caviar.
The money Stanford gave Sessions and other lawmakers was stolen from his clients while he carried out what prosecutors now say was one of the nation's largest Ponzi schemes.
Sessions, 54, a longtime House member from Dallas who met with Stanford during two trips to the Caribbean, did not respond to interview requests.
Supporters say the lawmaker, who received $44,375 from Stanford and his staff, was not assigned to any of the committees with oversight over Stanford's bank and brokerages.
Sessions is one of Congress' biggest clod-hoppers. He consistently finds himself in the news over idiotic statements. But it's fair to note that this is a bipartisan issue. Besides Republicans including former Rep. John Sweeney of New York and convict Bob Ney of Ohio, the list includes current Ways and Means chair Charlie Rangel (whose name also pops up in seemingly every single ethics investigation) as well as Sen. Ben Blue Ass Dog Nelson ... the one from Florida. They both donated contributions from Stanford to "charities".
In addition, Caribbean Caucus member and former Rep. Max Sandlin of Texas -- who became a lobbyist for damage control experts Fleishmann-Hillard after Tom DeLay's redistriciting knocked him out of Congress -- married another Congresscritter, Stephanie Herseth of North Dakota.
There's also this:
In late 2001, Stanford confronted another threat: A bill allowing state and federal regulators to share details about fraud cases — which would have brought Stanford's brokerages under closer scrutiny — landed in the Senate Banking Committee.
Though the Senate was now controlled by Democrats, Stanford was prepared: He had given $500,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2002 — his largest-ever contribution.
“I told him that the Democrats were going to take over, and he needed to make friends with them,” recalled his lobbyist Ben Barnes, once Texas' lieutenant governor.
Stanford also doled out $100,000 to a national lobbying group to fight the measure.
The bill, which sparked sweeping opposition from brokerages and insurers, never made it to a vote.
How is it that Ben Barnes is always mixed up in every single Texas scandal?