STANFORD AND SESSIONS, SITTING IN A TREE…. Sir Allen Stanford is widely recognized as one of the decade’s more notorious criminals. The scandal-plagued banker, after all, was allegedly responsible for one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in recent history.

Hoping to cultivate power, influence, and credibility, Stanford also had a habit — before his arrest — of making close connections with politicians in Washington. The efforts included generous campaign contributions and lavish Caribbean trips. Stanford’s investments paid off in 2001, when he used his connections to help kill legislation intended to crack down on offshore tax havens — a step Stanford had to take to keep secret his corrupt scheme run through an offshore bank in Antigua.

With that in mind, federal investigators are interested in knowing if members of Congress did special favors for the alleged Ponzi scheme operator. One lawmaker in particular is likely to receive a fair amount of scrutiny.

Just hours after federal agents charged banker Allen Stanford with fleecing investors of $7 billion, the disgraced financier received a message from one of Congress’ most powerful members, Pete Sessions.

“I love you and believe in you,” said the e-mail sent on Feb. 17. “If you want my ear/voice — e-mail,” it said, signed “Pete.”

Pete Sessions is, of course, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the man chiefly responsible for orchestrating the GOP strategy for the 2010 midterm elections. (He’s also the same lawmaker who said earlier this year he’d like to see Republicans emulate the Taliban.)

Keep in mind, Sessions reached out to Stanford after Stanford was busted by the Securities and Exchange Commission for running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Most sane politicians distance themselves from apparent criminals, but this year, the head of the NRCC reached out to an apparent criminal to tell him he loves him.

Sessions and Stanford reportedly bonded during a couple of trips to the Caribbean. Asked for comment about his Feb. 17 email, the far-right Republican chose not to respond.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.