The son of powerful Denver lobbyist Norm Brownstein was pardoned by President Donald Trump early Wednesday as Trump prepared to leave office.
Drew “Bo” Brownstein, who ran a hedge fund, pleaded guilty in 2011 to making illegal stock trades a year earlier that netted him about $2.4 million. He was sentenced to spend a year and one day in prison.
“President Trump granted a full pardon to Drew Brownstein, who, other than this conviction, was described by his sentencing judge as someone who ‘goes out of his way to help people that are less fortunate,'” a statement from the White House said. “This pardon is supported by the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, and several of Mr. Brownstein’s friends and family.”
The White House said Brownstein has fully paid off fines and forfeitures related to his case.
“Both before and after his conviction, Mr. Brownstein has volunteered extensively as a youth coach with the Boys & Girls club in Denver and the Jewish Family Services of Colorado,” the White House statement said.
Drew Brownstein expressed regret during his sentencing in New York City about a decade ago.
“I want to tell you how sorry I am for having made a terrible mistake,” Brownstein told U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson at his 2012 sentencing, according to The Denver Post. “I take full responsibility for my actions, and I will have to live with this for the rest of my life.”
Drew Brownstien released a written statement on Wednesday thanking Trump for the pardon.
“I am humbled and appreciative for the support I have received from so many people in the community,” he wrote. “Over the past eight years I have dedicated my time and efforts to assisting organizations that support at-risk youth and chronically ill children. I remain committed to working towards justifying the faith so many have entrusted in me.”
Norm Brownstein is founder and chairman of Brownstein Hyatt Farber and Schreck, one of the most influential lobbying firms in the nation. It is based in Denver.
Former U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy and Hank Brown once called Brownstein “America’s 101st Senator.”
Norm Brownstein declined to comment Wednesday when contacted by The Colorado Sun.
BHFS has close ties to the Trump administration and top Republicans.
Drew Brownstein is among more than 140 people offered clemency by Trump as he left the White House. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon was among those issued a pardon.
The final clemency list was full of more conventional candidates whose cases had been championed by criminal justice activists. One man who has spent nearly 24 years in prison on drug and weapons charges but had shown exemplary behavior behind bars had his sentence commuted. So did a former Marine sentenced in 2000 in connection with a cocaine conviction.
Even so, the names of prominent Trump allies nonetheless stood out.
One pardon recipient was Elliott Broidy, a prominent Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty last fall in a scheme to lobby the Trump administration to drop an investigation into the looting of a Malaysian wealth fund. Another was Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner who was charged last October with cyberstalking during a heated divorce.
Bannon’s pardon was especially notable given that the prosecution was still in its early stages and any trial was months away. Whereas pardon recipients are conventionally thought of as defendants who have faced justice, often by having served at least some prison time, the pardon nullifies the prosecution and effectively eliminates any prospect for punishment.
Bannon was charged in August with duping thousands of donors who believed their money would be used to fulfill Trump’s chief campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. Instead, he allegedly diverted over a million dollars, paying a salary to one campaign official and personal expenses for himself. His co-defendants were not pardoned.
“Steve Bannon is getting a pardon from Trump after defrauding Trump’s own supporters into paying for a wall that Trump promised Mexico would pay for,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on Twitter. “And if that all sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Thank God we have only 12 more hours of this den of thieves.”
Other presidents have issued controversial pardons before leaving the White House. But perhaps no other commander in chief has so enjoyed using the clemency authority to benefit not only friends and acquaintances but also celebrity defendants and those championed by allies.
Wednesday’s list includes its share of high-profile defendants.
Among them were rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, both convicted in Florida on weapons charges. Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, has frequently expressed support for Trump and recently met with the president on criminal justice issues. Others on the list included Death Row Records co-founder Michael Harris and New York art dealer and collector Hillel Nahmad.
Pardoned were former Rep. Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican who was sentenced to three years for corruption, money laundering and other charges, and former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham of California, who was convicted of accepting bribes from defense contractors. Cunningham, who was released from prison in 2013, received a conditional pardon.
Trump commuted the prison sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has served about seven years behind bars for a racketeering and bribery scheme.
Trump had already pardoned a slew of longtime associates and supporters, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law; his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone; and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.