Some Thoughts on Thune/Nelson/MetaBankSome right-wing bloggers have started to weigh in on the Dan Nelson/John Thune story, and to be honest I have found some of their defense of Sen. Thune compelling, but I also think they miss the mark, or try to move the target on a few points.
First. Taking their cue from the Senator himself, all the Right-wing bloggers feel obliged to specifically mention that at the time of the loan Thune was a private citizen. Why does that matter? Only a Senator can find shady ways to help a friend out of a financial pickle? Or is it that it's only a news story if it's a Senator instead of a candidate for Senator? I've tried to figure out why this matters, and I can't come up with a reason.
Second. They try to make a big deal out of the fact that Nelson and MetaBank had a longstanding banking relationship prior to the loan in question. Again, I don't know why this matters. This loan was the only loan Nelson received while under investigation by Iowa AG and while Thune was on the board.
Which brings us to my third point. Everyone seems transfixed on this notion that somehow Thune forced through a loan to Nelson over the objections of all the other board members and bank employees tasked with approving loans. I think we can all agree that would be, at the least very difficult and probably closer to impossible. The real issue, the real question, is did Thune have knowledge of the Iowa AG's pending legal action ahead of the public announcement of that lawsuit and at the time Nelson was applying for the loan in question? If he did have advance knowledge of the lawsuit, then it seems to me (and I'm not a lawyer or a bank executive) that as a MetaBank board member he was duty bound to share that knowledge with those ultimately making the decision on the loan. If he had advance knowledge at the time of the loan application and kept quiet, that is as reprehensible as actively forcing through a loan.
Fourth. How do we know if Thune had knowledge of Nelson's legal and financial problems at the time the loan was applied for? Well, the short answer is we don't and we probably won't. Sen. Thune says he has spoken with Nelson only once in the last six months while former Nelson employees say Thune and Nelson spoke on an almost daily basis. What else is Thune going to say? If he says he talks to Nelson all the time, nobody is going to believe that Nelson didn't confide in him. The former DNA employees are, after all, former employees. Todd Epp believes them to be credible, and I take his word for it, but it's not hard to imagine people who lost their job on Friday, lashing out at their former employer on Saturday.
As with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in between what we on the left have been pushing and what those on the right want to believe. Will we ever know if Thune sat on his hands while the bank that it was his job to protect approved a loan that he knew was destined to never be repaid? I don't know? I hope so, whatever the answer is, but I doubt we will. That doesn't mean it's not a legit news story. And nobody will ever make be believe that if the Sen. on that bank board was named Johnson or Daschle and the loan was made to one of their long time friends and political supporters that the Right-wing bloggers wouldn't be filling Randell Beck's email box on a daily basis demanding they write the story and we on the left would be finding ways to back up our man.
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As I've said before, if you judge a man by his friends, then you have to question John Thune judgment if not his character.