If you’ve been following the entwined stories of Tom Petters, Frank Vennes, and Michele Bachmann, then you almost certainly know the work of Ken Avidor and his Vennes Info blog, as well as the work of the late great Karl Bremer of Ripple in Stillwater fame.
Which is why it’s somewhat amusing to see somebody writing for a national mag, one Mariah Blake, waltz in and pretend to be the Owner of a Big Scooper-Dooper on this story:
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has quietly returned campaign contributions from an ex-con who lured investors for one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in US history—and on whose behalf the tea party lawmaker sought a presidential pardon. According to campaign finance reports, last quarter Bachmann’s campaign committee paid $14,000 to a bankruptcy trustee for Frank Vennes, a former North Dakota pawnshop owner who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for aiding and abetting fraud.
Big juicy breaking news, right? Well, except for the fact that Ken Avidor reported on the Vennes clawback four frigging months ago. June 16, to be exact. To wit:
The $14,000.00 settlement will be divided between PCI trustee ($8,600.00) and the Palm Beach Trustee ($5,400.00).
Also the Fidelis Foundation has to cough up $425,000.00 to the trustees.
Vennes Info: Where you can read today’s Mother Jones Big Stories four months ago!
UPDATE: Avidor reminds us that this isn’t the first time Blake’s acted as if she owns the Petters-Vennes-Bachmann story:
You’d think jet-setting, East Coast reporters would have learned a lesson about plundering homegrown media in flyover country for content after Matt Taibbi got caught ripping off G.R. Anderson’s City Pages profiles of Michele Bachmann.
Now, The New Republic’s Mariah Blake thinks she can Google-up a whole bunch of articles by local reporters and cobble together a flawed, confusing, unfocused article.
The TNR cover claims the article tells the “untold story” of the Tom Petters Ponzi scheme – what horse crap!. That story was told by every major news outlet in the state, the news wires and national business news outlets. I covered the trial of Tom Petters for the City Pages and kept a blog titled Petters Info. I even won an SPJ award for my nightly video reports of the trial (sadly, swept away by Bradlee Dean’s You Tube take-down with only one remaining). Beth Hawkins wrote a long article for Minnesota Monthly in 2009 titled “Trust Me” and covered the trial for Bloomberg. There were many articles about Petters in the Strib, PiPress and on radio and TV. The trial and conviction of Tom Petters was one of the top Minnesota news stories of 2009 and the last decade. Untold? Really?
POSTSCRIPT: TNR left their fingerprints at the scene of the crime… They stole a photo without credit that appears on Karl Bremer’s Ripple in Stillwater blog and nowhere else. I was at the courthouse when Karl took that photo. It captures Vennes in full flight from reporters with Karl in pursuit. Karl ran after Vennes for several blocks snapping pictures of the fleeing felon. That’s the sort of effort real reporters put into getting a story.