“Two-thirds of adults in Illinois (66%) are opposed to a presidential pardon for former Governor George Ryan, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state.
“Just 23% say Ryan, the Republican convicted on federal corruption charges in 2006, should be pardoned. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.”
Perhaps the poll’s most interesting finding is this:
“Members of Ryan’s own political party are more unforgiving than his former political opponents. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Republicans oppose a pardon versus 59% of Democrats. Twenty-six percent (26%) of both parties favor pardoning Ryan. Among those unaffiliated with either major political party, just 15% support a pardon, while 77% oppose one.”
I can only guess that a segment of Democrats think Ryan’s death penalty moratorium should play into this.
– Via Progress Illinois
More members of Illinois’ congressional delegation have weighed in on the possible commutation of George Ryan’s prison sentence. All are in the No category:
* Jesse Jackson, Jr. (Democrat)
* Judy Biggert (Republican)
* Debbie Halvorson (incoming Democrat)
Democrats Bobby Rush and Dan Lipinski didn’t return phone calls to the SouthtownStar, the paper reports.
“Conrad Black is pinning his hopes on clemency from U.S. President George W. Bush as a last-ditch effort to get out of jail early, and he wants his former publishing company to foot the legal bill,” the Toronto Globe and Mail reports.
That’s right – Black wants the Sun-Times Media Group to pay the legal fees associated with his clemency bid.
Apparently Jim Thompson didn’t offer him pro bono services like he’s done with George Ryan. Thompson, of course, was on the audit committee of the Sun-Times’s former corporate board when Black was looting the company.
“Rejecting an idea endorsed by two top Democrats, Republican North Shore Rep. Mark Kirk sent a letter to the White House today asking President George Bush not to commute the federal corruption sentence of former Republican Gov. George Ryan,” the Tribune (and others) reports.
“The letter’s terse subject matter refers to the former governor, incarcerated at the federal correctional facility in Terre Haute, Ind., as Federal Inmate Number 16627-424.”
“George Ryan betrayed the public trust, was convicted beyond the shadow of a doubt by a jury of his peers and lost all of his appeals. His crimes struck at the fabric of our democracy and invited a new wave of public corruption in Illinois,” Kirk wrote.
Will the rest of the delegation weigh in? Obama?
UPDATE DEC. 2: Some of these questions have now been asked and – sort of – answered. Let’s take a look (from various news sources).
Well, Durbin did it.
1. Why not just wait for Barack Obama to become president and ask for him to commute George Ryan’s sentence? You certainly have more influence with Obama than George W. Bush. And Obama certainly is more familiar with Ryan’s case.
“Durbin said he did not ‘think it would be appropriate’ to wait to ask President-elect and fellow Illinois Democrat Barack Obama to issue a commutation when he takes office since clemency actions normally come during the final days of an outgoing presidency.
Define “appropriate.” And, actually, presidents act on pardons and clemency requests throughout their terms; there is usually a flurry at the end of a term because it’s the last chance they get to exercise their power. And wouldn’t it be more appropriate if the new president from Illinois acted on this case? And will someone ask where Obama stands on this?
In conjunction with stating on Thursday that George Ryan should be set free, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to announce the following this week:
* He will not only keep Death Row empty, but clear out Simple Felony and Misdemeanor Row too.
* He is planning to enter the priesthood sometime between the end of his term as governor and the day of his coming federal indictment. He has also taken on a second job at a soup kitchen and a third job as a paralegal at Winston & Strawn.
* He will accept an ambassadorship from Barack Obama, but swears it is not because it will give him diplomatic immunity.
* Yes, he knows what irony means.
* Patti made him do it.
Meanwhile, Jim Thompson insists that Ryan feels remorse.
A) He’s just been too shy to say so publicly.
B) He’s damn sorry he ever trusted Scott Fawell.
C) He’s sorry he shanked that guy in Unit C and he’ll apologize for anything to get out before the ladies trap him in the shower.
Has Dick Durbin lost his mind?
It’s hard to think of any other explanation for the news today that he is considering asking President George W. Bush to commute George Ryan’s sentence.
“Let’s look at the price he’s paid,” Durbin told reporters.
Um, Dick, let’s look at the price we’ve paid.
“His family name has been damaged.”
“He is at an advanced moment in his life and been removed from his family.”
On a soft, six-and-a-half-year sentence imposed by a federal judge. All appeals denied.
“He has lost his economic security.”
He doled out taxpayer money to his cronies in a series of dirty deals.
“The question is whether continued imprisonment is appropriate at this point.”
The question, Senator Durbin, is why you aren’t giving your personal consideration to those among the thousands of Illinois prisoners who aren’t actually guilty, or who deserve a measure of this nation’s compassion. Or even those who are guilty but are remorseful for what they’ve done – which Ryan still isn’t.
This is a neat game you are playing, senator. You can hardly decide against asking Bush to set Ryan free now, can you? But even if you decide against it, you have signaled to the president that you’ll give him cover. The U.S. Senate’s second-highest ranking Democrat thinks it’s okay.
“Former Gov. James R. Thompson doesn’t get it and never will. Why should George Ryan remain in prison? Bob Dylan answered the question decades ago in his song, ‘The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,'” Mark P. Bloedel of Oak Park writes in a letter to the Sun-Times today.
As Bloedel – via Dylan – goes on to explain, “George Ryan must finish his sentence because the ladder of law must have no top and no bottom.”