|Bush Issues First Presidential Pardons|
Since sparing a couple of Thanksgiving turkeys, President Bush has issued the first real presidential pardons of his administration, granting clemency to a total of seven persons who had committed relatively minor crimes and had completed their sentences.
Pardoned by President Bush were:
- Douglas Harley Rogers, of Brookfield, Wisconsin, convicted in 1957 for
failure to submit to induction into the Army, served a two-year sentence
- Kenneth Franklin Copley, of Lyles, Tennessee, convicted in 1962 for the
manufacture of untaxed whiskey, served two years probation
- Harlan Paul Dobas, of Portland, Oregon, convicted in 1968 for conspiracy
involving theft from his employer, served three months in jail and five
- Olgen Williams, of Indianapolis, Indiana, convicted in 1971 for stealing
$10.90 from a postal employee's mail, served a one-year sentence.
- Paul Herman Wieser, of Tacoma, Washington, convicted in 1972 for theft of
$38,000 worth of copper wire, served 18 months on probation
- Walter F. Schuerer, of Amana, Iowa, convicted in 1989 of making false
statements to the Social Security Administration, fined $50,000
- Stephen James Jackson, of Picayune, Mississippi, convicted in 1993 of odometer tampering, fined $500 and served three years on probation
'Exemplary' lives since convictions
In explaining the pardons, White House spokesman Ken Lesaius stated, "What each case has in common is that each pardon request was from someone who committed a relatively minor offense many years ago. Each has stayed out of any real trouble with the law since then and has gone on to live an exemplary life and become a positive force in their respective communities."
Bush not quick to pardon
Considered a strict disciplinarian, President Bush is likely to be very cautious in granting pardons, according to legal experts. As governor of Texas, Bush granted comparatively few pardons and, since becoming president, has denied 2,673 pardon or commutation of sentence requests, according to a White House official.
"The president believes that the clemency power should be exercised with great care and I have no reason to believe that he will not continue with that philosophy," said the White House spokesman.
In his only pardons so far, Bush seems to be making good on the promise he made only days after taking office in 2001: "Should I decide to grant pardons, I will do so in a fair way. I will have the highest of high standards."
Ghosts of pardons-past
In those words, President Bush was responding to questions about a series of controversial pardons, recently granted by his predecessor.
In the final days of his presidency, Bill Clinton brought a firestorm of criticism down on his office by pardoning Marc Rich, a man indicted in 1983 on charges of racketeering and mail and wire fraud, arising out of his oil business. Days later, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) disclosed that her lawyer brother Hugh Rodham had accepted some $400,000 in fees to help two other felons get pardons from President Clinton. [See: About the Presidential Power to Pardon]
President Clinton, however, was not the only president to issue less than well-received pardons.
Bush's father George H.W. Bush, drew fire for pardons granted to former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and other members of President Reagan's administration charged with conspiring in the Iran-Contra affair. And in what might have been the highest-profile presidential pardon in history, President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard M. Nixon of all involvement in the Watergate scandal.