From the start of the Allen Stanford mess, we've sort of had a hunch
that the Inter-American Economic Council -- which paid for several Caribbean junkets and other events for US lawmakers -- was largely a creature of the Texas billionaire. And that hunch is looking increasingly accurate.
The Dallas Morning News reports
that in 2005, the year the IAEC funded that big trip to Antigua for lawmakers of both parties that we posted pictures of
, Stanford Financial provided 85 percent of the IAEC's revenue, according to its president, Barry Featherman.
Featherman also told the DMN
that the IAEC raises no money except for the funds it receives from sponsors like Stanford for specific events. In other words, the organization exists, it appears, only to hold events with public officials.
And Featherman added that the group hasn't paid for any trips since 2007, thanks mostly to ethics rules passed by the new Democratic Congress early in that year, which banned House members from accepting free trips on private planes.
There are some other interesting nuggets in the DMN
story. The paper reports that Tom DeLay "made at least 11 trips on Stanford planes between 2003 and 2006, according to federal campaign finance records."
And remember how the office of Texas GOP congressman Pete Sessions first claimed that Sessions didn't know Stanford personally -- a claim that was undone when we posted pictures
of the two men schmoozing on that 2005 trip to Antigua? Well it looks like Sessions was getting more than just a nice Caribbean trip out of Stanford. The DMN
reports that in 2004 when, thanks to redistricting, Sessions was in a razor-tight race to hold onto his Congressional seat against the powerful incumbent Democrat Martin Frost, Stanford's company came to the rescue, giving $37,875 in the final weeks of the race.
Separately, it looks like Team Stanford is staying mum on the charges that it orchestrated an $8 billion fraud. James Davis, Stanford's college roommate and the number two at Stanford Financial, who has also been charged in the SEC complaint, took the Fifth
last week under questioning by agency investigators.
And last week, Laura Pendergest-Holt, the company's chief investment officer, was charged
with criminally obstructing the SEC probe. The FBI filed court documents claiming Pendergest-Holt made "misrepresentations" about her knowledge of Stanford's investment portfolio, and about whether she met with other Stanford officials to prepare for her testimony. The charge may be evidence that the government is trying to flip Pendergest-Holt to testify about Stanford himself.