Skip to comments.Trouble followed three of Clinton’s ‘midnight pardons’
Posted on 08/09/2007 5:06:28 PM PDT by LdSentinal
At least three individuals pardoned by President Clinton during his last minutes in office have run into further trouble with the government.
But despite the recent brouhaha over President Bushs commutation of the prison sentence of I. Lewis Scooter Libby and the controversy surrounding Clintons midnight pardons, Congress has shown little appetite for making substantial changes to the executive branchs clemency power.
While some lawmakers over the last decade have called for changes to the pardon system, the few bills proposed have not come close to becoming law.
Financier Marc Rich, businessman Almon Glenn Braswell and Roger Clinton Jr., the presidents half-brother, were among the 140 individuals President Clinton pardoned during his last day in office. The GOP-led Congress investigated these pardons in 2001, probing the familial and financial connections between the White House and those pardoned.
The legal issues that the trio faced over the past six years range from drug charges to fraud to tax evasion.
Clemency experts said it was not surprising that legal trouble continued to follow pardon recipients. Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, said to believe otherwise would be wishful thinking given the inevitable realities about many individuals seeking presidential pardons.
You could pick 500 of the sweetest human beings on the planet, keep a close eye on them long enough, and a percentage of them are going to do something bad, Berman said. Tigers dont tend to change their stripes all that much.
Roger Clinton, who received a pardon for two 1985 charges related to the possession and distribution of cocaine, was arrested and charged with two counts of driving under the influence less than a month after his half-brother left the White House. He pleaded guilty to a non-alcohol-related reckless driving charge, which spared him jail time.
Rich received a pardon for charges, dating to 1983, of tax evasion, tax fraud and violating U.S. embargoes by trading with Iran during the U.S. hostage crisis. Both he and business partner Pincus Green were in Switzerland at the time of their indictment, and neither returned to the U.S.
The Rich pardon sparked bipartisan outrage and congressional investigations to determine whether Richs ex-wife, Denise Rich, received a quid pro quo for contributing approximately $1 million to Hillary Rodham Clintons Senate campaign, the Clinton presidential library fund and other Democratic causes.
A Federal Election Commission inquiry into whether Denise Rich had donated money and furniture to Hillary Clintons Senate campaign in exchange for a pardon concluded there was not a quid pro quo.
Marc Rich, however, returned to the post-pardon spotlight when allegations arose over his involvement in Iraqs oil-for-food program, which funneled $1.8 billion in illicit profits to Saddam Hussein.
In early 2005 Rich told congressional investigators that he was authorized to buy and sell oil as part of the program, though he denied knowledge of any bribery schemes involved.
But congressional investigators thought he was not being completely forthcoming. Mr. Rich's answers were non-responsive, which is no surprise because we believe he knows more than he wishes to acknowledge, a spokesman for then-House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) told Fox News at the time.
Later that year, a U.N.-backed investigation into the oil-for-food scandal reported that Marc Rich & Co. had secretly financed 4 million barrels of oil under a contract given to a French-based shell company.
According to the report, Surcharges were imposed on the oil, [and] Marc Rich & Co. directed BNP Paris [Banque Nationale de Paris] not to disclose its identity to BNP NY in connection with its financing of the U.N. contract.
Despite the report, Rich & Co. continued to categorically deny any wrongdoing in the oil-for-food case.
Braswell received a pardon for a 1983 conviction on perjury and mail fraud for false claims made by his mail-order business, Gero Vita International, based on the effectiveness of a treatment for baldness.
It was subsequently revealed that Braswell had paid Hugh Rodham, Hillary Clintons brother, a sum of $200,000 to secure his pardon. Rodham later returned the money, as well as $200,000 he had received to lobby for the commutation of drug trafficker Carlos Vignali, at the behest of the Clintons.
Despite the pardon, other investigations into Gero Vitas business practices continued. Braswell refused to testify at a September 2001 hearing on the matter, and in May 2003, the Federal Trade Commission lodged a separate complaint against Braswell and his company alleging false advertising and marketing.
In 2004, Braswell was imprisoned for tax evasion. Under a plea agreement, Braswell admitted that Gero Vita had not paid $4.5 million in taxes and served 18 months in jail. He also paid over $10 million in back-taxes.
Braswell died in 2006 at the age of 63.
After Clintons pardons in 2001, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) proposed a bill to require individuals lobbying on behalf of a presidential pardon to register as lobbyists. The bill did not make it out of committee.
Similarly, a constitutional amendment proposed in February 2001 by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) prohibiting a pardon during a presidents last four months in office was not taken up by committee.
More recently, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) vowed last month to undertake a full review of presidential clemency power. The committee held a hearing to examine the use and misuse of presidential pardons, but no legislation to limit the president's authority is in the works, a spokesman for the panel said.
Could that be because they keep bumping up agains the Constitution?
Reason: They have no power to make such changes!
Is one of the authors of this article the same Patrick Fitzgerald who prosecuted Libby?
Good catch, even if I don’t know.
We have to keep her out of the White House.
No, but (cross my heart... I swear) private attorney Scooter Libby lobbied for Marc Rich, arguing his case against Patrick Fitzgerald of the Justice Department. The latter was monumentally ticked off when Libby got Clinton to pardon Rich.
I believe Fitzgerald swore he would somehow get back at Scooter. Hence the trumped up charges against Scooter later.
Money doesn’t buy as much as it used to.
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