December 24, 2008
Follow the Money

Joyful Alternative alerted me to some alarming but quite expected news on one of Bush’s pardons. Thanks to the blog Pardon Power for alerting Joyful to the details and links for the facts. The blog is mostly run by a large cadre of law professors. We have much to learn from them and I urge you to visit their blog or one of the ones in this group that covers your state. For example, here’s a link to Connecticut pardons as an homage to the founder of this blog. I’m not opposed to pardons. More often than not it is the right thing to do. I am opposed the the practice of selling pardons to the highest bidder by politicians. Prison for the politician is the appropriate remedy for this kind of conduct.

In short, this story connected to President Bush is “he bought his way out through campaign contributions to the Republican party.” As a lawyer, I’ve heard about these kinds of stories for years and many politicians have engaged in it. And other stories from South Carolina, including one I know to be true from a few years ago.

Here are some of the details of the Bush pardon saga. We are only at the beginning of the beginning and this kind of story just breaks your heart. Who can forget Marc Rich? From the NY Daily News comes the saga of one pardon which was bought and paid for. And I’m sure we can expect ten times as many from Bush as from Clinton as the number of criminals inside the administration is much greater and the Republican Party has depleted its funds as well, so get ready for more outrage.


President Bush pardoned a Brooklyn real estate developer accused of scamming hundreds of poor, minority homebuyers — and whose father donated $28,500 to the Republican Party this year.

Bush pardoned Isaac Toussie, 36, two days before Christmas in a gesture of mercy that outraged ex-customers who said they were duped into buying overpriced, defective homes.

Neither the White House nor the Justice Department would say why Toussie deserved the pardon, which clears his record of convictions in a 2003 guilty plea for mail fraud and lying to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Toussie admitted falsifying finances of prospective homebuyers seeking HUD mortgages.

His sentence was a “relatively mild” five months in prison and five months house arrest, a $10,000 fine and no restitution, one U.S. official said. Bush spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration does not discuss individual pardons. Toussie’s lawyer, Henry Mazurek, also declined to comment.

Federal Election Commission records show Toussie’s father, Robert, made his first political donation last April &mdash $28,500 to the Republican National Committee. On Aug. 7, U.S. Pardon Attorney Ronald Rodgers received Isaac Toussie&rsqo;s pardon petition, a Justice spokeswoman said.

“It clearly suggests a link between the pardon and campaign contributions,” said Melanie Sloan, an ex-prosecutor with the liberal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The victims” federal suit charged the Toussies lured “inexperienced and low income inner city minority first-time buyers into purchasing homes that they could not afford.” The homes were overpriced by up to 50% and often defective, and the cost of mortgage payments was hidden, the suit said.

And Happy Holidays to all, now matter what your preference, or Happy No Holiday at all for those who choose not to participate in some of the ghastly practices of the season.

UPDATE: I never thought I’d see the day, but George Bush withdrew that pardon after he “found out” about the contribution. I’m sure there’s a very disappointed father out there, but for once I’ve got to give George credit. He did the right thing. But by the time Obama takes office, I’m betting that his administration will give the most pardons to members of that administration than any other in history. And then we’ll turn on the outrage again. If he doesn’t, I'll rank him up several notches. But don’t count on it. From Nixon to Ford to Reagan to Bush to Bush, they’ve all pardoned people within their own administrations. And the Bush administration has more reasons to do it for themselves than any other in history. But it still won’t absolve any of them from war crimes trials, whether now or 25 years from now. Cheney reminds me so much of the Nuremburg defendants it’s uncanny. That’s one transcript I’ve read quite a bit of, and the Bush Administration has many characters who mimic the Nazis more than most Americans realize. But score one for Bush for withdrawing this pardon. Score zero for whatever politician(s) told the father that he could get the pardon for his son for a monetary contribution. And it just adds further to the evidence that this is how this administration has operated everything. Pay to Play. Just not this time. Sorry Dad. They took your cash. Maybe they’ll give it back if they think you’re going to tell the Feds who promised you that pardon for the contribution. But don’t count on that. But I’m left wondering whether a pardon can be withdrawn once granted. I’m not sure it can. Here’s the NY Times update on the case.

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Posted by Buck Batard at December 24, 2008 12:17 PM
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That was fast! Let me look around and decide on the second most heinous pardon.

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on December 25, 2008 6:37 AM
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