One of the lesser-known individuals granted pardons and clemency by President Donald Trump Tuesday is a relatively obscure former construction company executive from Texas whose family members have given six-figure donations to the president's reelection campaign.
Pogue Construction founder Paul Pogue, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to underpaying taxes by more than $400,000 according to media reports, and and was sentenced to three years in prison, was among 11 individuals pardoned or commuted by President Trump on Tuesday. Others on the list included former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has defended the president against the now-wrapped congressional impeachment efforts, and former New York Police Department commissioner Bernie Kerik, a frequent defender of the president on Fox News.
While Pogue himself hasn't been an outspoken Trump defender, his family members have given more than $200,000 to the president's high-dollar fundraising vehicle for the reelection campaign as recently as last fall, disclosure reports filed to the Federal Election Commission show.
Paul Pogue's son, Ben Pogue, who now leads the family construction company, and his wife, Ashleigh Pogue, together gave a total of $238,541 between August and October 2019 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the Trump campaign the Republican National Committee.
The couple gave $135,000 to Trump Victory as direct contribution in August and gave more than $103,000 as in-kind contributions for "air travel" between September and October last year, suggesting they were lending private jets to the campaign.
Ashleigh Pogue has touted her connections to President Trump and his family members on her Instagram account, posting a photo with Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle on the day they made their first donation to Trump Victory. She also posted a photo of herself and others at a White House Christmas party this past December.
Paul Pogue himself doesn't appear to have given to Trump, but he's been an occasional Republican donor, maxing out donations to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's Senate committee in 2018 and also maxing out donation to Rick Santorum's presidential campaign in 2015. The White House named Santorum as one of seven people that supported Pogue's pardon.
Trump is by no means the only president who has granted clemency to a major donor. President Bill Clinton, on his last day in office, made the controversial decision to pardon financier and major Democratic donor Marc Rich, who had fled overseas to escape indictment for alleged financial crimes.
While others that were pardoned and commuted by President Trump on Tuesday don't appear to have made significant contributions to the Trump campaign, one of the higher-profile figures on the list, former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. appears to have been an early backer of the Trump presidency.
DeBartolo, who pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an alleged extortion plot by former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, co-hosted a pre-inaugural day party in Washington, D.C., a flier for the event promoted by the president on Twitter shows.
Not all of among the 11 pardoned or commuted on Tuesday were defenders and political allies of the president. One was Tynice Nichole Hall, a mother sentenced for possession and intent to distribute drugs.