Tuesday, May 24, 2011

a hoisted by their own petard kind of thing

Ol' Tim Pawlenty may be in a bit of a soup. A Daily Kos blogger passed along the news that

...then-Gov. Pawlenty granted to a sex offender in October 2008, a pardon that is certain to haunt Pawlenty throughout his campaign. Turns out the man Pawlenty pardoned was later arrested again for molesting his daughter more than 250 times in an eight-year span, including six years prior to his pardon.
Jeremy Giefer served 45 days in prison in 1994 after being convicted of statutory rape. However, because he married the then-14-year-old girl and stuck around to father the child they conceived together, he begged the state for an extraordinary pardon, which would no longer require Giefer to report himself as a sex offender.
The board — which included the Minnesota attorney general, the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and then-Governor Pawlenty — voted unanimously to pardon Giefer.
"Old Redneck" at Kos concludes that this proves Republicans fire teachers and pardon child molesters. Yeah, anyway...

This isn't Pawlenty's first pardon problem. He and Michele Bachmann sought a pardon for a character

...indicted on fraud and money-laundering charges in a U.S. District Court in Minnesota. A former North Dakota pawnshop owner who ostensibly found Jesus while serving a prison sentence in the 1980s, Vennes emerged as a pillar of Minnesota’s conservative Christian community. Then, according to the indictment, he channeled millions into a Ponzi scheme run by the businessman Thomas J. Petters, who is now serving 50 years in federal prison. Much of the money Vennes raised seems to have come from faith-based charities, pastors, and ministers, some of who have lost their life savings.
...Vennes was a major donor to both politicians, and both politicians sought pardons for him in order to wipe away the taint of the crimes that first landed him in prison. Vennes’s respectability in conservative Minnesota circles seems to have enabled his crimes.
... He donated several thousand dollars to Tim Pawlenty’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign, and sat on the board of Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug rehab program, with Pawlenty’s wife, Mary. In 2006, according to the Star Tribune, he was the top donor to Michele Bachmann’s congressional campaign.
(Which leads me to sidebar: Is there a bigger piece of opportunistic trash in congress than Michele Bachmann?)

It's certainly not true that only Republicans abuse the pardon process. Bourgeois politicians, products of the marketplace themselves, have trouble drawing their wheeling and dealing lines. But in this election cycle, it's the GOP that seems tainted by what Politico called "Horton's Ghost."

Sometimes these pardon scandals are a bit unfair, a bit of a stretch to the limits of configural causality and foreseeability. Mittens, for example, appointed people to a parole board who made a pretty egregious error (see the Politico link above). Even Pawlenty can't be faulted for what a shrink should have caught--that the dude that married the 14 year old was also prone to go after younger kids--including immediate family members.

One unanswered question, though, is why Pawlenty would be stupid enough to pardon ANY sex offender. Was he trying to appeal to the self-perceived wrongfully convicted sex offender constituency?

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