Bush administration presidential pardons

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TalkLeft[1] reported on the February 16, 2004, Associated Press news item "President Pardons Former Texas Mayor"[2], raising the issue of Bush administration presidential pardons.

"President Bush pardoned a former mayor of Plano, Texas, who pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 1996, the Justice Department announced Monday.
"David B. McCall Jr., who is battling cancer, served six months in prison for his role in fraudulent loans at the Plano Savings and Loan Association, which failed in the mid-1980s.
"Officials in Plano, a Dallas suburb, earlier this month renamed a downtown plaza in McCall's honor for his service as mayor from 1956 to 1960.[3][4]
"McCall and four other men, including another former Plano mayor, were indicted in August 1995 on allegations they created a web of transactions designed to transfer troublesome loans from one institution to another."

TalkLeft's curiosity was raised when it heard about Bush's pardon to a "Texan who pleaded guilty to fraud in one of the 1980's Savings and Loan scandals ... because that was what Neil Mallon Bush had been involved in." A preliminary search did not bring up an immediate connection between McCall and Neil Bush. The October 11, 1996, Dallas Morning News produced the following so-far unrelated information:

Former Mayor Jack "Harvard and Mr. McCall were indicted in August 1995, along with three other men, on federal bank fraud charges involving a series of loans totaling more than $ 25 million. The 11-count indictment alleged that the defendants created a web of transactions designed to transfer troublesome loans from one institution to another. The purpose, authorities say, was to hide difficulties from bank examiners and relieve borrowers of the need to repay the loans. In September, two real estate brokers pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with the same case."

TalkLeft opines: "We're still curious as to why this guy deserved a pardon."

Perhaps a clue comes from the AP news item itself:

"McCall, who was an elementary school principal early in his career, served as mayor from 1956 to 1960. During that time, he was named Plano's Man of the Year and served as president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas) provided character testimonials for McCall's pardon application, the Justice Department said." Note the R after each name ... that's R for Republican, you know.

However, a little more searching does produce some interesting results.

  • 1 November 2002: "Texas Supreme Court Dollar Docket ... High Court Candidates Raise $1 Million A Seat": Shows the "Gov. Bush Committee" donating $7,716" to incumbent "Philips'" war chest. In another chart, in the October 20, 2002, war chest contributions related to the case of "Tana Oil & Gas Corp. v. Tom C. McCall & David B. McCall," show that Tana contributed $38,195, and the McCalls $ 0.

Also, on the subject of whether or not President George W. Bush is likely to issue many Presidential Pardons during his term, Jurist International Law has this to say:

"No. For one thing, his father (George Herbert Walker Bush) issued very few (77) when he was in office. For another, during his prior term as Governor of Texas, George W. issued fewer pardons than any Texas Governor since the 1940s (16 up to January 2000, as opposed to 70 for his immediate predecessor Ann Richards, 822 for 2-term governor Bill Clements, and 1048 for John Connally, Texas governor from 1963-69).
"In a January 2000 interview with reporter Jay Root of the Austin Star-Telegram, Governor Bush explained that his low number of pardons 'comes not from political calculation but from pardoning Steven Raney in 1995 for a 1988 marijuana conviction. A few months after being absolved of his crime, the unpaid Ellis County constable was caught stealing cocaine from a drug bust. 'That caused a complete review of the process,' Bush said. 'I have nothing against pardoning. I just haven't been very aggressive on it. There's no philosophical reason. It's just that it kind of slowed us down initially. I said, `Whoa!' because it was a pretty rough story."

This makes Bush's pardon of David B. McCall, Jr., even more puzzling.

President Bush issued his first pardons on December 22, 2002, according to Mike Allen of the Washington Post, "offering pre-Christmas mercy to seven men convicted of relatively minor federal offenses ranging from selling moonshine to altering an odometer. ... Others included a former postal clerk who became a Christian youth minister after stealing money from the mail to buy heroin, and a Wisconsin man who refused the military draft in 1957 because he was a Jehovah's Witness minister." [5]

Bush had "received 289 requests for pardons. Because of a backlog from the Clinton administration, Bush has denied 569 requests and 2,476 are awaiting action. ... Bush was known for the slow pace of his pardons in six years as Texas governor, issuing the fewest of any governor in more than 50 years. Legal experts had predicted Bush would be unusually cautious with his pardon power, after the embarrassment early in his governorship of wiping clean the marijuana conviction of a deputy constable who was later accused of stealing cocaine from a drug bust." [6]

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