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HighTower advisor urges Trump to pardon junk king Michael Milken

Wealth-management executive and HighTower advisor David Bahnsen sent a plea to President Trump this week to pardon Michael Milken, one of the most powerful figures in Wall Street history to go to prison.

Bahnsen, a managing director at Morgan Stanley before he started his own wealth-management group in 2015, told Trump in a letter that Milken’s prosecution was a result of “a period of class envy run amok.”

Bahnsen, a Republican donor, said in an email he’s never met Milken.

A pioneer of the high-yield bond industry in the 1980s, Milken was a symbol of the era’s swagger when he ran that business for Drexel Burnham Lambert. He pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 1990 and spent 22 months in prison.

Michael Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute, listens during the Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica, California, 2017
Michael Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute, listens during the Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The summit gathers entrepreneurs, investors, and leading executives to discuss the most important innovations in business and technology. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Bahnsen, whose Bahnsen Group oversees more than $1 billion, told Trump the pardon would signal a stop to “headline-seeking, human-damaging corporate prosecutions, devoid of due process.”

The advisor said he sent an earlier version of the request and revised it after Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio last week.

Milken, 71, is now a philanthropist and namesake of a prominent annual conference, where Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told attendees in May they should “thank me for your bank stocks doing better.”

Bahnsen appeared in On Wall Street's Top 40 Advisors Under 40 in 2014. He ranked No. 21, with $3.15 million in production at the time.