Bush denies bevy of pardons, commutations

Jan. 27, 2009 at 8:22 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Before leaving office, U.S. President George W. Bush rejected clemency pleas from former lawmakers Randall "Duke" Cunningham, Edwin Edwards and Mario Biaggi.

The chief of the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney, confirmed that Bush also rejected clemency for junk bond financier Michael Milken and Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who is serving life sentences for the murder of two FBI agents during a 1975 shootout in South Dakota, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Bush left other clemency petitions alone, including those of Illinois Gov. George Ryan; former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby; Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel; media mogul Conrad Black; and telecommunications executives Bernard Ebbers and John Rigas.

Cunningham, a Republican congressman from California, is serving more than eight years for bribery. Edwards, a former Democratic governor of Louisiana, is serving 10 years for racketeering. Biaggi was a New York Democratic congressman sentenced to 2 1/2 years in 1987 for accepting an illegal gratuity.

The Times noted that during his presidency, Bush issued far fewer pardons and prison commutations than many other presidents in recent history.

During the Bush administration, 2,498 pardon and 8,573 commutation applications were submitted. The former president granted 189 pardons and 11 commutations, and denied 1,729 pardon applications and 7,498 commutation applications.

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