Updated 11:46 a.m.
The son of one of Colorado’s most powerful political insiders was among President Donald Trump’s last-minute pardons as he left the White House.
Drew “Bo” Brownstein, son of prominent Denver attorney Norman Brownstein, was granted a full pardon by Trump. His was among 143 pardons and commutations released close to midnight in Washington.
“This pardon is supported by the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, and several of Mr. Brownstein’s friends and family,” according to a news release from the White House.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Delrahim worked for more than 11 years at the firm Norman Brownstein founded, rising to partner before leaving in 2017 to join the White House Counsel's Office then moving to the Attorney General's Office.
Notably absent from those approving of the pardon is the Office of the Pardon Attorney, which reviews standard requests for pardons and commutations.
Drew Brownstein, then 35, was convicted in 2012 after pleading guilty to insider trading. His company profited by $2.44 million after he heard from a friend that Mariner Energy was going to be acquired by Apache Corp. in a 2010 deal worth $2.7 billion.
At the time, Drew Brownstein ran a hedge fund, Big 5 Asset Management, that earned the windfall from the information. Brownstein pocketed about $130,000, according to contemporary news accounts.
He was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to serve a year and a day in prison, followed by six months home confinement and three years of supervised release. He also forfeited all the money from the illegal trade.
“I will have to live with this for the rest of my life,” a remorseful Brownstein told the judge at sentencing.
But the full pardon changes that.
“I am grateful to President Trump for this pardon,” Bo Brownstein said in a statement to CPR News. “I am humbled and appreciative for the support I have received from so many people in the community.
“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.”
Brownstein’s father Norm, once called “America’s 101st senator,” founded the law and lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which, after first opening a Washington office in 1995, has grown into one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying operations. He declined to comment on the pardon.
The younger Brownstein, who could have faced up to 20 years in prison, benefited from an array of testimonials from celebrities, athletes and politicians, including letters to the sentencing judge from former U.S. Sens. Hank Brown and Tim Wirth.
Federal prosecutors acknowledged Brownstein’s remorse in the case, and recommended just six months in prison, but U.S. District Court Judge Robert Patterson decided to exceed that.
“We’ve got too much greed in this country these days, and it’s not confined entirely to Wall Street either,” Patterson said.
The pardon for Drew Brownstein is contained among dozens of pardons and commutations issued by Trump outside of the normal review process. They included pardons for former Trump campaign and White House aide Stephen Bannon and rap artist Lil Wayne.
CPR News reporter Allison Sherry contributed to this report
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