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 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.
According to the Miami Herald's report, Stanford used his ties to Congress to establish himself as a respectable businessman and also to avoid the unwanted gaze of federal 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.''
How come even though Republicans are always talking about freedom, the one and only freedom they seem to be fighting for is the freedom for thieves like Allen Stanford to steal your money?