The story of Duke’s clemency application seems to have touched a nerve. I was on KUSI-TV this morning to discuss the Cunningham pardons. People seem to be outraged at the possibility that Duke might wriggle off the hook.
Well, I don’t think there’s much chance of that. George W. Bush has granted clemency a total of SIX times since he took office. Yes, one of those cases was Scooter Libby. But the rest were nobodies, small-time drug dealers you’ve never heard of. By contrast, Clinton granted clemency 61 times — half of which came on his last day in office.
But the bigger problem — and the more meaningful one for Duke — is the huge backlog of 2,300 cases that is overwhelming the system. The Justice Department’s Office of Pardon Attorney, which has to review and make a recommendation on each request, is drowning in paper. There are thousands of people equally, if not more deserving of clemency than Cunningham.
So, who’s representing Duke? It’s not Cunningham’s criminal attorneys at the firm of O’Melveny & Myers, as I’ve previously noted. But who is? And why?
I’m assuming here that Duke didn’t file his own application. It’s possible, but unlikely. As Duke’s former commanding officer pointed out, the man can’t write a simple declarative sentence.
Hiring an attorney at $500/hour is tough for an ex-congressman who had to forfeit all his ill-gotten gains and owes a $1.8 million fine. Then again, he is still collecting his congressional pension.