Originally created 01/27/01

Probe pardon abuses



The final unethical chapter of a sleazy presidency was written in a dramatic way on the last day of Bill Clinton's administration. The issue: 140 pardons and 36 prison sentence commutations.

The list is replete with people having financial ties to both Clinton and his wife. There is an appearance that some pardons were bought and paid for. Others appear to be coldly calculated political gestures for which recompense will no doubt be expected in return.

A full run-down of the names and why they are unworthy of such generosity would be too lengthy. But consider just a few egregious pardons:

Marc Rich was charged in 1983 with conducting the largest tax evasion scheme in U.S. history. He fled the country, fought extradition from Switzerland and even stood trial for his crimes. But the amoral wheeler-dealer continued to make millions of dollars, even doing business with Iran while it was an enemy of his native country.

Rich's wife stayed home raising money for the Democratic Party, and in the last two years she contributed $320,000 to various Clinton-related causes. Rich's lawyer is former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn.

Susan Rosenberg was a member of the Weather Underground terrorist group charged in a 1981 New York robbery that left a guard and two police officers dead. This left-winger was found in New Jersey in 1984 unloading 740 pounds of dynamite and weapons - and admitted she planned to supply others with explosives for bombings.

William Borders, a once-prominent Washington, D.C., attorney was jailed for fraud. He, too, had been a generous Democratic contributor.

Also, consider these two incredible commutations:

Former Clinton pal and ex-Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill., serving time for bank fraud and sex charges involving a teen-age campaign worker.

Four wealthy constituents of now-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. These Hasidic Jews were convicted of embezzling million of dollars of taxpayer money by financing a phony yeshiva (religious) school.

Clinton also pardoned his brother, who was once arrested on cocaine charges, and numerous other drug dealers. And he didn't forget old friends from Arkansas, including former business partner Susan McDougal (who refused to cooperate with law enforcement or prosecutors).

Like many other things he has touched, Bill Clinton has cheapened the traditional presidential pardon process. A congressional investigation is needed to expose these abuses, as well as to ascertain whether Clinton or his senator-wife will financially benefit.