"The current political situation makes it virtually impossible for Gov. Ryan to secure a commutation," Los Angeles lawyer Mark Geragos told The Chicago Tribune.
Geragos represented Susan McDougal, a figure in the Whitewater scandal who was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.
Ryan has spent more than a year behind bars since being sentenced to 6 ½ years. His wife, Lura Lynn, told the Tribune she sent President George W. Bush a note several months ago asking for clemency for her husband.
"I asked him to please let him come home because I needed him because of my health," she said. "He knows both of us. We worked very hard for him, as we did for his father."
Lura Lynn Ryan used Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., as an intermediary. LaHood, recently tapped by President-elect Barack Obama as transportation secretary, declined to arrange a meeting with Bush when the president visited Peoria, but agreed to pass on the note.