Felons are asking President Bush for pardons and commutations at historic levels as he nears his final months in office, a time when many other presidents have granted a flurry of clemency requests, reports the New York Times. Among the petitioners is Michael Milken, the billionaire former junk bond king turned philanthropist, who is seeking a pardon for his 1990 conviction for securities fraud. Milken sought a pardon eight years ago from President Bill Clinton, and submitted a new petition in June.
Others seeking commutation of sentences are Randy Cunningham, the former Republican congressman from California; Edwin W. Edwards, a former Democratic governor of Louisiana; John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban; and Marion Jones, the former Olympic sprinter. Under the Constitution, Bush can issue a commutation, which reduces a sentence, or a pardon, which forgives an offense and erases the criminal record, to anyone. But even if a felon's petition reaches the Oval Office, most of those seeking mercy from Bush should expect to be disappointed. The Bush administration took office amid heavy criticism of Clinton's last-minute pardons, and Bush has made little use of his clemency powers.