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Bachmann returns contributions from alleged Petters co-conspirator

Posted by: under 6th District, Minnesota congressional Updated: October 16, 2013 - 12:56 PM

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s congressional campaign committee is reporting $14,000 in payments to the bankruptcy trustee for Florida businessman Frank Vennes, an associate of convicted Twin Cities’ Ponzi schemer Tom Petters.

Vennes, a longtime evangelical supporter of Bachmann, pleaded guilty earlier this year to fraudulently raising money from individuals and through hedge funds for investment in Petters’ company.

The campaign’s payments are the result of claims made by bankruptcy trustees to recover contributions Vennes made to Bachmann between 2006 and 2008, a period when he also sought her help in an unsuccessful attempt to get a presidential pardon for a 1987 conviction on money laundering, drug and firearms charges.

“I’m pleased that she has cooperated with us,” said Twin Cities attorney Doug Kelley, a trustee in the Petters’ $3.6 billion federal fraud case.

Bachmann also has been in settlement talks with a Florida trustee who sued her campaign for the return of $27,600 in contributions from Vennes.

Altogether, the trustees have been trying to recover an estimated $500,000 in contributions by Petters and his associates to an array of politicians, including U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Bachmann.

Most of those contributions, including Bachmann’s, have been returned or given to charity.

While Bachmann has announced that she is not running for reelection, her campaign still holds more than $1.7 million in cash on hand.

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