Thursday, February 28, 2019

Amy Klobuchar's Troubling History With Right-Wing Culture Warriors

The following are three posts about POTUS candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar's curious ties to right-wing culture warriors:

Amy Klobuchar & Frank Vennes

Amy Klobuchar & Right-Wing Culture Warriors 9/11/2011

Amy Klobuchar & Minnesota Teen Challenge

I've tried to make these posts as concise as possible. If the reader needs further information, I suggest searching on this blog and searching "Ripple in Stillwater", the late award-winning, investigative journalist Karl Bremer's blog.

Amy Klobuchar & Frank Vennes

Back in 2012,  City Pages reporter Aaron Rupar asked me about allegations by Amy Klobuchar's election opponent about campaign contributions to Klobuchar's campaign by Tom Petters. This is what I said:

It's a pretty explosive allegation, right? But what the report only mentions in passing, says local political blogger and longtime Petters watcher Ken Avidor, is that Klobuchar is far from the only Minnesota politician to be sullied by a connection with Petters -- the list also includes Michele Bachmann, Norm Coleman, and Tim Pawlenty.
Tom Petters had friends in both parties. Frank Vennes was not tried with Tom Petters. He professed his innocence until days before his trial when he pled guilty.

If the question had been about Amy Klobuchar and fraudster Frank Vennes Jr.,  the subject of this blog now serving a sentence for operating fraud connected to Tom Petters' $3.6 billion  Ponzi scheme. I would have declined to comment because that relationship is not as clear as the relationship of Michele Bachmann and Frank Vennes Jr. detailed in the late Karl Bremer's investigative masterpiece "Lawyers Guns & Money, The Twisted Trail of the Frank Vennes Jr. Presidential Pardon".

To be fair, there is no evidence Senator Klobuchar asked for or lent her support for a presidential pardon as Bachmnn, Pawlenty, Coleman and others. However, reporters should ask the Senator if she at any time supported the effort to obtain a presidential pardon for Mr. Vennes. Reporters should also ask Senator Klobuchar if she would pardon or commute the sentence of Mr. Vennes if she becomes President Klobuchar.

Frank Vennes Jr. was on the Minnesota Teen Challenge board which received a $500K earmark from  Senator Klobuchar (see this post).

When Michele Bachmann ran for president in 2011, Karl Bremer appeared on Democracy Now to talk about Frank Vennes Jr. and his quest for a presidential pardon:

Next: Amy Klobuchar & Right Wing Culture Warriors: Patriot Day 2011

Amy Klobuchar & Right-Wing Culture Warriors 9/11/2011

Years ago, I was making videos for the Dump Bachmann blog, so I took a trip to the Minnesota Capitol September 11, 2011 because Michele Bachmann was  scheduled to speak at the "Patriot Day"  event. Bachmann was a no-show. There was no explanation given, although one of the speakers told me Bachmann had "security concerns".  Then I saw Amy Klobuchar, apparently standing in for Rep. Bachmann (both sponsored the Boondoggle Bridge legislation in Congress). Klobuchar seemed at ease standing with Pastor Brandon, virulent opponent of same-sex marriage as the photo below attests:

I also made a video featuring Brad Brandon and Senator Klobuchar:

People from the radio station KKMS "The Christian Voice" and AM 1280 "The Patriot" were there, so I took the opportunity to ask the them what they thought about the return of Bradlee Dean and his "Sons of Liberty" show to the Patriot line up after it was cancelled following his bizarre sermon at the Minnesota Capitol.  Here's what they had to say (or not say):

On the stage with Senator Klobuchar was Mitch Berg, a right-wing blogger of "Shot in the Dark" fame. Berg has a post with a cartoon on his blog portraying me as a hairy penis... "family values",  I guess. So, I imagine, Senator Klobuchar would call her appearance at this event with Mr. Bergand the other right-wing culture warriors  "reaching across the aisle"(a bit of an overreach if you asked me). Keep in mind, Senator Klobuchar has turned her back on environmentalists and other progressive activists. Also at the event and giving a no-comment to me was Lee Michaels who in happier times appeared with Bradlee Dean and sidekick Jake McMillian.

It should be noted that the radio station's General Manager Ron Stone was also a director of Bradlee's ministry:

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International is run by President Bradley Dean Smith of Annandale, who is better known to his followers as “Bradlee Dean,” and Secretary Jacob McMillian MacAulay, a/k/a "Jake McMillian," the only two paid members on the organization’s board. Other directors include Nicole Bengston, vice president; Heather MacAulay (Jake’s spouse), treasurer, Ron Stone, director; and Todd Bergren, director.
Read the rest about this bunch in Karl Bremer's "Did 'You Can Run But You Cannot Hide" get caught up in IRS crackdown on sham ministries?"

Reporters need to ask Senator Klobuchar why she felt so comfortable even ebullient with extremist, right-wing culture warriors, such as Michele Bachmann as this photo taken by Karl Bremer shows:

NEXT: Amy Klobuchar & Minnesota Teen Challenge.

Amy Klobuchar & Minnesota Teen Challenge

Before he was convicted for his role in Tom Petters' $3.6 billion Ponzi scheme Frank Vennes Jr. served on the board of Minnesota Teen Challenge (now, Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge). This is how the late Karl Bremer summarized the role MNTC played in Mr. Vennes' quest for a presidention pardon in Part 3 of "Lawyers Guns & Money The Twisted Trail of the Frank Vennes Jr. Presidential Pardon":

Bachmann and Pawlenty—both of whom are running for president—and Coleman have refused repeatedly to respond to inquiries from myself about Frank Vennes Jr.  But one common thread connects them—and former President George W. Bush—to the convicted money launderer: the controversial faith-based drug/alcohol rehab ministry Teen Challenge.

In 2009, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who at a recent town hall meeting rejected taxpayers helping reducing the debt burden on college students, sought* an earmark for $500K for MNTC. Controversy swirled around this earmark because, besides the connection to the Frank Vennes Jr. scam, Teen Challenge had a history of controversy regarding it's claims that  Halloween, Metallica, Pokemon and Harry Potter are gateways to satanism and addiction.

Teen Challenge also has a history of "praying away the gay":

The LGBT Community needs to watch out for programs like Teen Challenge and remember that it a massive organization with over 223 centers in North America with the capacity to sleep over 7,536 people, according to its website.
Programs like this negatively impact a high number of gay youth. I can state from firsthand experience that Teen Challenge did some long-term damage to my self esteem.

MNTC itself, has associated itself with gay conversionist Janet Boynes as well as culture warriors Marcus and Michele Bachmann. MN Senator Scott Dibble (from the Uptake):

MNTC continues to this day to be a haven for right-wing culture warriors as evidenced by a recent fundraising gala in Minneapolis attended by several prominent right-wing Republicans and one prominent Democrat - Senator Amy Klobuchar. There is a cache of photos taken at the May 4, 2018 event at Flickr. Including photos, like this one of Senator Klobuchar giving a speech and others showing Senator Klobuchar sticking around for the meal:

Also at the gala were  Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, Assistant Majority Leader. Senator Warren Limmer. Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and others including the former lobbyist for Frank Vennes Jr. Judge Jamie Anderson profiled in this article by Andy Birkey.

Reporters need to ask Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar about her $500K earmark for MNTC in light of her denial of aid to debt-burdened students. They need to ask her why she attended this 2018 fundraiser and other fundraisers in the past (see below screenshot) for this bizarre, right-wing, culture-warring, fraud-friendly ministry.

Here's a video with clips showing some news reports about MNTC, Bachmann and the curious connections between MNTC and Republicans as well as MNTC Pastor Rich Scherber talking about how God saved him from collapse of the 35W bridge:

See also: Amy Klobuchar & Frank Vennes Jr.

UPDATE: Klobuchar also appeared at the 2019 MNTC Gala by video. Marcus Bachmann was in the audience. Marcus Bachmann was recently in the news (WaPo):
Genna Gazelka, 30, who uses the pronoun “they” and now identifies as bi-gender, recalled being sent to a therapist who decried same-sex relations. The therapist was Marcus Bachmann, the husband of former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a fiery conservative Christian who ran for president in 2012
Genna Gazelka's father is  Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. Paul Gazelka gave a speech at the MNTC gala this year and tweeted about it.

There is no videos or audio available for Klobuchar's 2018 & 2019 speeches, but this video titled "‪Senator Klobuchar Praise of MN Teen Challege" ‬ is on You Tube:

*There is a question about whether MNTC received the money. There is no doubt that Klobuchar requested the earmark as reported in The Intercept.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vennes Appeal Denied

Judge Richard Kyle in a judgement delivered April 29. 2015 slammed the book closed on the ridiculous motion by convicted fraudster Frank Vennes to revoke his guilty plea. Some highlights:

Defendant builds his request for relief upon the following house of cards: the Government made numerous promises to him but then omitted those promises from the written Plea Agreement; his counsel, a seasoned criminal practitioner and former Supreme Court law clerk, knew about the promises and that they had been omitted from the Plea Agreement, but repeatedly reassured him there was nothing to worry about and the Government would abide by its promises; and defense counsel then stood idly by while the Government’s lawyers flouted all of those promises. Simply put, this strains all logic and credulity. Defendant has offered no explanation why the Government would have made numerous promises to him but then omitted them from the Plea Agreement, and there is no obvious reason for it to have done so. Nor has Defendant offered any rational explanation why his experienced counsel would not have objected despite an abundance of opportunities.  
Furthermore, and perhaps more damning, Defendant himself never objected to the Government’s alleged malfeasance – not at the change-of-plea hearing, not in his sentencing papers, not at the sentencing hearing, not in a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and not on appeal – until the deadline for seeking relief under § 2255 had nearly expired. This despite acknowledging his “reluctance” to sign the Plea Agreement in the first place and the importance of the Government’s alleged promises in deciding to plead guilty. Once again, there is no rational explanation why Defendant would fail to object under these circumstances.
In the footnotes:
It is not lost on the Court that Defendant is a convicted fraudster implicated in a scheme causing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. And his attempt to withdraw his guilty plea due to the Government’s alleged breach of its promises does nothing to undermine his admission of guilt.
 And this about how Vennes treated his attorney Jim Volling: appears Defendant is  attempting to throw his counsel under the bus, so to speak, in a half-hearted attempt at avoiding a lengthy sentence. 
And on and on,  Judge Kyle smacks down every argument Vennes makes about the alleged malpractice of his attorney and the unfairness of the prosecution and the courts, concluding with this:
In the end, the Court agrees with the Government that accepting Defendant’s contentions here would “turn [his] change-of-plea colloquy into a farce.” The Court will not countenance such a result. Simply put, no constitutional or other infirmity entitles Defendant to relief. 
There ends the long and absurd tale of a Frank Vennes, an ex-convict convicted of fraud who used money invested in another fraudulent scheme to influence politicians to wipe his criminal record clean so he could defraud even more people. It is a tale that illustrates the corrosive effect of vast, donated wealth, even purloined donations on our political system. But, does anyone care anymore?

PERSONAL NOTE: I will be taking this blog from public viewing soon. I fully expect Frank Vennes will sue me for defamation for this blog. Although I have relied on public documents and news reports in this blog, that is no protection from having to endure many months of litigation. Someday, Frank Vennes will be out of prison and free to prey again on unwitting and naive investors. This blog, sadly will not be around to give them facts they need to protect their money.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Attorney for Frank Vennes Represented Denny Hecker

Back in November, I posted about Frank Vennes having buyer's remorse over his sentencing. He dismissed James Volling of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and claimed Volling screwed up his sentencing. Now, the process is grinding through the discovery process, collecting affidavits, correspondence, depositions etc. Representing Frank Vennes in these proceedings is attorney William J. Mauzy.

I'm looking forward to sketching at the hearing - stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Frank Vennes Moves to Vacate his Guilty Verdict and Conviction

Frank Vennes filed  documents Pro Se last month to vacate his guilty verdict and conviction last month. Vennes was sentenced October 16, 2013 to 180 months plus three years supervised release for two counts of money laundering and aiding and abetting securities fraud.

Vennes was not happy about how his Faegre Baker Daniels attorney James Volling handled his case, particularly the plea agreement.

 The U.S. Attorney's office filed a response November 4, 2014 in disagreement with Mr. Vennes's complaint. Volling filed an affidavit November 7, 2014 in response in disagreement with Mr. Vennes's complaint.

In an October 15, 2014 order, Judge Kyle said the following, "Furthermore, by challenging Volling’s effectiveness and calling into question the communications between him and Defendant, the attorney-client privilege has been waived."

It will be interesting if Mr. Vennes gets a hearing.

Read more at Law 360.