GOP campaign donor in Texas among President Trump's pardons

GOP campaign donor in Texas among President Trump's pardons

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — One of President Donald Trump's clemency actions Tuesday included pardoning the former owner of a Texas construction company who pleaded guilty to underpaying his taxes and whose family has donated to Republicans, including the president's reelection campaign last year.

Paul Pogue, who founded Pogue Construction near Dallas, was among 11 people pardoned during a clemency blitz that included Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former New York Police Department commissioner Bernie Kerik.

Pogue pleaded guilty in 2010 to filing a false tax return. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and more than $473,000 in restitution.

Among those who advocated for Pogue's clemency, according to a White House statement, were former Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. When Santorum ran for president in 2016, Pogue was a member of his national finance committee.

In Texas, Pogue gave $10,000 to help Paxton fight felony charges of securities fraud that have shadowed him since taking office in 2015. Paxton has pleaded not guilty and the case has been at a standstill for years. Campaign finance records also show that Pogue has donated to other GOP officeholders in Texas, including former Gov. Rick Perry and state Sen. Angela Paxton, the attorney general's wife.

A messages left for Pogue through his former company was not immediately returned Tuesday. A Paxton spokesman did not return messages about the attorney general's support.

The White House highlighted Pogue's charity efforts, saying they provided “critical" support to Texas during Hurricane Harvey. “For more than 30 years, he has provided significant humanitarian aid to countries around the world, including Africa, India, and Mexico, all while continuing to help his fellow Americans in times of need," the statement said.

Pogue Construction is now run by Ben Pogue, Paul Pogue's son, who donated $85,000 last year to Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee for the president’s reelection campaign and Republican National Committee. Ben Pogue also maxed out to the Trump presidential campaign, giving $5,600 in August 2019.