As Running Mate, Pawlenty Would Face Issues

Tim Pawlenty could get his wish to join a national ticket in the next few days.

Although Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he has not decided on a running mate, outside speculation puts the former Minnesota governor at the top of the list. And when a politician receives that much attention, critics surface.

Chris Moody of Yahoo News wrote a lengthy piece outlining three areas where the would-be vice presidential candidate is vulnerable.

Even most Minnesotans may not remember them:

— While in the Minnesota House, Pawlenty served on the board of a corporation whose subsidiary was charged with scamming customers.

— Pawlenty’s first gubernatorial campaign had to pay $600,000 in fines for improper coordination with the state party.

— Pawlenty’s campaign treasurer was charged with deceiving homeowners facing foreclosure.

The first charge that Moody says Democrats probably will use against Pawlenty stems from when he was on the NewTel board of directors and the company bought New Access Communications. New Access was investigated in several states for scamming customers.

As a new governor, Pawlenty invited reporters into a conference room in 2003 and talked to them in depth about the situation, leaving as a bottom line that he never was informed of New Access problems.

On the campaign violation, Pawlenty again went public soon after the allegations surfaced and his campaign paid the penalties.

On the third incident, Pawlenty successfully distanced himself from his treasurer, saying the campaign and the treasurer’s private business were separate.

None of the three incidents appeared to hurt him in Minnesota.

Pawlenty ran for president last year, ending the campaign nearly a year ago, and finished No. 2 as John McCain’s running mate four years ago.