Tom DeLay’s legal advisers are ruling out seeking a presidential pardon for the embattled former House majority leader...
Richard Cullen, who is representing DeLay in the federal investigation against him, said there should be no question of a pardon.
“I would rule it out,” he said. “No one has suggested that Mr. DeLay is guilty of a crime. He has stated clearly that he has not committed a crime.”
Pardons loom large in the waning months of any presidency, and DeLay’s case could be especially salient because his legal travails have already cost more than a million dollars in legal fees, with no end in sight.
Honestly, I find this news to be rather unremarkable. I want to know what did happen and what will happen. I don't really care what won't happen.
The primary purpose of this post is to highlight the reason behind the federal investigation into Mr. DeLay's activities:
[Mr. DeLay] is involved in a federal probe in Washington related to his relationship with former lobbyist Ed Buckham. Those cases have stretched out for years and cost DeLay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills...
DeLay and his wife, Christine, have also been involved in a long-running FBI investigation scrutinizing several years of income Christine received from two organizations affiliated with Buckham.
Money received by Christine DeLay from Ed Buckham. Nearly two and a half years ago, it became clear to me that these payments to Mrs. DeLay would be very problematic for Mr. DeLay. To this day, I like to see this story in print.
Asking for a Pardon
I believe that Mr. DeLay's attorneys do not intend to ask President Bush for a pardon. But that doesn't mean a pardon is out of the question:
Margaret Colgate Love, the U.S. pardon attorney from 1990 to 1997, said: “Historically, most people who have been pardoned have asked to be pardoned, but there have been exceptions.”
The Hill goes through a list of some of those exceptions. President Clinton pardoned former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) after he was convicted of mail fraud. The Hill doesn't mention that President Bush commuted the sentence of former White House aide Scooter Libby without being asked. Usually, pardons are issued after the judicial system has completed the process of trying and convicting an individual. But there have been exceptions to that rule, too.
So while Richard Cullen, Mr. DeLay's attorney, rules out petitioning for a pardon, that doesn't mean that a pardon is out of the question. Let's hope President Bush doesn't issue a pardon to Mr. DeLay. While the power to pardon is indisputably within President Bush's authority, it would not, in my opinion, be in the interests of justice.
The Hill article reminds us of an episode that occurred in the spring of 2007:
DeLay told The Hill in May 2007 that the federal probe had “run amok” and that prosecutors should bring charges or drop the case. Justice Department officials still have not brought charges or exonerated DeLay more than a year later.
The Hill accurately described Mr. DeLay's May 2007 temper tantrum. Mr. DeLay clearly attacked the federal probe being conducted by the Justice Department. But as I observed at the time, Mr. DeLay's attorney, Mr. Cullen must not have heard what his client said even though Mr. Cullen was present at the press conference. Mr. Cullen suggested that Mr. DeLay didn't mean it when he said, “[Christine DeLay] did her work and she was underpaid for the work she did and they can’t make the case. It’s a Justice Department that is running amok. Fish or cut bait. Do something." Mr. Cullen said that Mr. DeLay was not actually referring to the Justice Department's inquiry in to his wife's "employment" in that statement. Rather, Mr. Cullen suggested that Mr. DeLay was actually angry about Ronnie Earle's partisan prosecution on state money laundering charges.