So we already knew that Allen Stanford -- the Texas banker charged by the SEC today
with running an $8 billion "fraud of shocking magnitude" -- had some pretty impressive political contacts
with both parties.
But it looks like his relationship with one of his home-state senators, Republican John Cornyn, may have been especially cozy.
According to Cornyn's Senate disclosure reports -- posted
on the site Legistorm.com, which tracks privately financed trips by members of Congress -- the Stanford Financial Group paid for the Texas senator and an unnamed companion to take a November 2004 trip down to Antigua and Barbuda, the tiny Carribean nation where the company has its headquarters.
The three day trip is described by Legistorm as a "financial services industry fact-finding mission hosted by constituent company with substantial operations on site."
The site adds:
Sen. Cornyn discloses expenses for himself and a companion, but does not disclose the identity of the companion.
The total cost of the trip: $7,441.00
It would be hard to blame Cornyn if financial regulation wasn't the only thing on his mind while he was in Antigua. The trip occurred right after the November 2004 election, during which Cornyn was working hard for George W. Bush. And just last Sunday, the New York Times
travel section described
Antigua as a group of "famously paradisiacal islands that actually lives up to the hype."
The paper continued:
An array of Ã¼ber-luxurious resorts have cashed in on the lush surroundings, and provide their well-heeled guests with so many hedonistic diversions that many never emerge to see what lies beyond the resort gates.
Sounds like just the spot for some fact-finding!
We've told you all about Stanford's generous record of contributions to lawmakers from both sides of the aisle -- and especially to those with authority over the banking sector. The New York Times
has gone further
, reporting that Stanford's contributions appear to focus "particularly on legislators considering bills that would change offshore banking rules."
Cornyn this year became a member of the Senate Finance committee, though in 2004 he was not a member.
We've put in a call to Cornyn's office to ask what he learned on the "fact-finding mission" Stanford paid for -- and who his mystery companion was -- and will update with anything we learn.
Thanks to reader B.K. for the tip.Late Update
: It looks like Cornyn's spokesman was asked
by the Center for Public Integrity back in 2006 about the identity of Cornyn's companion, and responded that it was Cornyn's wife.
Interestingly, CPI said the trip was "to tour the offices of trip sponsor Stanford Financial Group."
Thanks to commenter Snig for pointing that out