Last February, the office of Rep. Pete Sessions initially claimed the congressman wasn't personally acquainted with alleged Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford, who'd donated generously to the Texas Republican's campaign over the years. Then pictures surfaced of Sessions with Stanford during a junket to Antigua in 2005. But how close were the pair really? Close enough for Sessions to use the L-word in an email he sent Stanford on February 17, 2009, hours after US Marshals raided Stanford Financial's Houston headquarters and the SEC charged the financier with bilking investors of some $8 billion. "I love you and believe in you," Sessions wrote, according to the Miami Herald. "If you want my ear/voice -- e-mail."
The disclosure of this sympathetic missive—which appears to suggest Sessions was willing to use his influential "voice" on Stanford's behalf—suggests that Sessions, along with other members of Congress, could be in for an unpleasant 2010. The Herald reports:
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.
The Justice Department is investigating millions of dollars Stanford and his staff contributed to lawmakers over the past decade to determine if the banker received special favors from politicians while building his spectacular offshore bank in Antigua, The Miami Herald has learned.
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.
For Sessions, this isn't the first time his ties to unsavory characters has been called into question. In 2006, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Justice Department complaint against Sessions accusing him of doing favors for the clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for donations to his political action committee, Pete PAC.
UPDATE: Sessions' office has provided TPMMuckraker with the following statement regarding his email to Stanford:
From the government that knighted him to Barack Obama and John McCain, Allen Stanford had everyone fooled, and as Mr. Stanford's scheme has become clear Congressman Sessions has worked to ensure that the investors Mr. Stanford swindled receive the justice they deserve - including signing a letter to the SEC requesting SIPC coverage for the victims.
While the referenced email cannot be authenticated, Congressman Sessions believes that its contents resemble language he would use to communicate with a person in crisis to encourage right decisions and prevent further tragedy.
With that being said, the Congressman maintains the position that Mr. Stanford should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Bravo. This heroic attempt at spin should really win some kind of award.
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