Feds probe banker Allen Stanford's ties to Congress

Stanford and Barack Obama December 27, 2009

The ties between indicted banker Allen Stanford and members of Congress -- including millions in contributions and weekends in five-star Caribbean resorts -- are now the subject of a sweeping federal investigation.

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 Ponzi scheme was able to continue for so long due to "institutional influences" within the SEC.
As Feds Closed In, Stanford Boosted Efforts To Buy Influence.
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.

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.

His press secretary, Emily Davis, said she was unable to comment on the e-mail sent at 11:31 a.m. on the day Stanford was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "I haven't seen it, so I can't verify its authenticity at this time," she said.

But the message found on Stanford's computer servers and the contributions he made to Sessions and other lawmakers -- totaling $2.3 million -- are now part of the government's inquiry.

Records show Stanford also doled out $5 million on lobbying since 2001, setting up his own Washington firm last year with expensive furnishings and artwork -- the money plundered from his customers' accounts.

Over the years, he took on battles to protect his banking network while fending off regulators.

In 2001, he pressed successfully to kill a bill that would have exposed the flow of millions into his secretive offshore bank in Antigua.

The next year, he helped block legislation that would have drawn more government scrutiny to his bank.

While he was fighting reforms to financial secrecy and offshore banking laws, Stanford was hobnobbing with dozens of lawmakers.

Stanford hosted New York Congressman John Sweeney's wedding dinner at his five-star restaurant in Antigua in 2004 -- toasting the couple for photographers -- and staged a cocktail fundraiser for now-disgraced Ohio congressman Bob Ney at his bayfront Miami office.

"He legitimized himself by having himself vetted by powerful members of Congress," said Steven Riger, a former vice president at Stanford's Miami brokerage. "It was all about the public's perception."

The federal investigation comes after months of criticism from victims' groups complaining that elected leaders failed to vet Stanford before accepting money from him the past 10 years. If they had, they would have discovered that the U.S. State Department in 1999 concluded that Stanford helped create a haven for money-laundering in Antigua.

Political contributions from Mr. Stanford and his affiliated companies. For which purpose?

$950,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
$238,500 National Republican Congressional Committee
$202,000 Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
$128,500 Republican National Committee
$ 83,345 National Republican Senatorial Committee
$ 25,000 Rangel Victory Fund
$ 16,000 Friends of Chris Dodd
$ 14,000 Shelby for US Senate
$ 11,500 Chris Dodd for President
$ 10,000 New Jersey Democractic State Committee
$ 10,000 Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX)
$ 8,000 Friends for Harry Reid
$ 6,600 Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
$ 6,100 Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
$ 5,000 Americans for a Republic Majority PAC
$ 5,000 Friends of John Boehner
$ 5,000 Friends of Jay Rockefeller
$ 5,000 Delegate Donna Christensen (D-USVI)
$ 5,000 Representative Charles Gonzalez (D-TX)
$ 5,000 KPAC (affiliated with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas)
$ 5,000 Lone Star Fund
$ 5,000 Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY)
$ 5,000 Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)
$ 4,600 Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (presidential campaign)
$ 4,550 Representative Dan Maffei (D-NY)
$ 4,000 Arcuri for Congress
$ 4,000 Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
$ 4,000 Representative Richard Neel (D-MA)
$ 4,000 Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
$ 3,300 Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY)
$ 3,300 Pete Olson for Congress
$ 3,000 Representative James E. Clyburn (D-SC)
$ 3,000 Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL)
$ 3,000 ERICPAC
$ 3,000 Leadership PAC 2006
$ 3,000 Alexander for Senate 2014, Inc.
$ 3,000 Mel Watt for Congress
$ 2,550 Representative Eric Massa (D-NY)
$ 2,550 Representative Mike McMahon (D-NY)
$ 2,500 Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)
$ 2,500 Freedom Fund
$ 2,500 Representative Timothy Johnson (R-IL)
$ 2,500 Representative Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)
$ 2,500 Senator Mary Landreiu (D-LA)
$ 2,500 Representative John Lewis (D-GA)
$ 2,500 Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
$ 2,500 National Leadership PAC
$ 2,500 Friends of Mark Warner
$ 2,500 Representative Adam Putnam (R-FL)
$ 2,500 Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR)
$ 2,500 Former Senator John Sunnunu (R-NH)
$ 2,500 Representative John Tanner (D-TN)
$ 2,500 Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
$ 2,500 Collins for Senator
$ 2,500 Campaign Account of Robert Wexler
$ 2,300 Minnick for Congress
$ 2,300 Representative John Boccieri (D-OH)
$ 2,300 Representative Deborah Halvorson (D-IL)
$ 2,300 Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
$ 2,300 Olson-Texas Victory Committee
$ 2,300 Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)
$ 2,100 Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
$ 2,000 Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
$ 2,000 Neugebauer Congressional Committee
$ 2,000 Lloyd Doggett for Congress
$ 2,000 People for Patty Murray
$ 2,000 Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
$ 2,000 Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)
$ 2,000 Reprentative Kevin Brady (R-TX)
$ 2,000 Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
$ 2,000 Representative Dave Camp (R-MI)
$ 2,000 LEADPAC
$ 2,000 Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
$ 2,000 Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX)
$ 2,000 Representative Patrick Tiberi (R-OH)
$ 2,000 Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ)
$ 1,500 Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX)
$ 1,500 Representative Peter King (R-NY)
$ 1,500 Representative Kendrick Meek (D-FL)
$ 1,500 David Scott for Congress
$ 1,500 Charles Boustany Jr. MD for Congress
$ 1,000 Representative Joe Barton (R-TX)
$ 1,000 Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
$ 1,000 Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
$ 1,000 Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
$ 1,000 Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN)
$ 1,000 Former Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
$ 1,000 Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND)
$ 1,000 Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX)
$ 1,000 Freedom Funds - Mike Crapo, Honorary Chairman
$ 1,000 Barney Frank for Congress Committee
$ 1,000 Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)
$ 1,000 Marsha Blackburn for Congress
$ 500 Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN)


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