Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty formally announced his campaign seeking the GOP nomination for the presidency Monday morning, but by midday, his political past had already caught up to him. Reporting by Minneapolis City Pages’ Nick Pinto brought to attention a pardon then-Gov. Pawlenty granted to a sex offender in October 2008, which is sure to haunt the candidate throughout his campaign: the man Pawlenty pardoned was later arrested again for molesting his daughter more than 250 times in an eight-year span, including six years prior to his pardon.
Jeremy Giefer served 45 days in prison in 1994 after being convicted of statutory rape. However, because he married the then-14-year-old girl and stuck around to father the child they conceived together, he begged the state for an extraordinary pardon, which would no longer require Giefer to report himself as a sex offender.
The board — which includes the Minnesota attorney general, the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the governor (Pawlenty, at the time) — voted unanimously to pardon Giefer.
The damning details came in November 2010, when Giefer was again arrested on counts of sex with an underage girl — this time with the daughter he had conceived with Susan before his first rape charge. According to the complaint his daughter, identified in court documents as C.G., filed, Griefer would often make her have sex with him or perform oral sex on him as a favor before he would give her permission to do things, and that he put her on birth control when she was 15 years old so that she wouldn’t get pregnant when he raped her without a condom. The abuse started when she was 9 years old.
Pawlenty soon proposed cracking down harder on sex offenders, and said he would never have granted Griefer pardon if he had known he was molesting his daughter.
Pawlenty’s fledgling presidential campaign has already seen drama, when Benjamin Foster, a campaign consultant for Pawlenty, was arrested for trespassing and public intoxication when he vomited in an Iowa voter’s yard and woke up the family’s teenage daughter by banging on the back door.
Another campaign staffer, campaign manager Nick Ayers, brings a boozy whiff of controversy as well: It’s widely known that he was arrested for drunk driving in 2006.
Running a presidential campaign ensures that skeletons will come tumbling out of closets left and right, but it’s too early to say which past missteps may ultimately prove damning for candidates.