Grat­i­tude to for­mer pres­i­dent doesn’t ex­tend to nom­i­nee wife

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - BY S.A. MILLER

Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton granted Mar­cos Arce­nio Fer­nan­dez one of 396 par­dons doled out dur­ing his eight-year ten­ure — but Mr. Fer­nan­dez said his grat­i­tude doesn’t ex­tend to Hil­lary Clinton.

In fact, the 73-year-old Florid­ian is not only vot­ing for Don­ald Trump, he do­nated $80 to the GOP nom­i­nee’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

“The way things are go­ing now, I’m 100 per­cent with Bill but not with Hil­lary,” Mr. Fer­nan­dez, who was par­doned for smug­gling a boat­load of mar­i­juana into the U.S., told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “I don’t like her at­ti­tude, and I don’t like, you know, the things that go on around her.”

Many of Mr. Clinton’s par­dons were con­tro­ver­sial at the time, with even fel­low Democrats say­ing they ap­peared to be po­lit­i­cal pay­back for friends and al­lies.

But aside from a few high­pro­file ex­cep­tions, those who were granted clemency do not seem to owe much al­le­giance to the fam­ily, at least when it comes to their wal­lets.

Most of the par­doned have avoided po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions al­to­gether, ac­cord­ing to Fed­eral Election Com­mis­sion records. And of those that have given, many were ac­tive only in down-bal­lot elec­tions, do­nat­ing to Repub­li­cans and Democrats run­ning for Congress but skip­ping the pres­i­den­tial race.

One man whose mail fraud con­vic­tion was par­doned by Mr. Clinton even do­nated $1,000 to for­mer Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s run for Congress in 1999, ac­cord­ing to Fed­eral Election Com­mis­sion records.

At the pres­i­den­tial level, how­ever, those that did give were just as likely to pony up for Mr. Trump or Sen. Bernard San­ders, Mrs. Clinton’s op­po­nent in the Demo­cratic pri­mary, than for the for­mer first lady.

That was the case for Robert H. Wendt, a lawyer in St. Louis who con­trib­uted $700 to the San­ders cam­paign, even though he ac­knowl­edged Mrs. Clinton pleaded his case for a par­don of his con­vic­tion for con­spir­acy to aid in an es­cape from a fed­eral prison.

“I know that Hil­lary Clinton was in­stru­men­tal in her hus­band’s de­ci­sion [to grant the par­don]. Be­cause of this great per­sonal debt and my deep be­lief in loy­alty, it may seem both cu­ri­ous and dis­loyal that I urge my

fel­low ci­ti­zens to get be­hind Bernie San­ders,” he wrote in an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch in March. “I do so be­cause of my deep be­lief that Sen. San­ders is lead­ing a po­lit­i­cal revo­lu­tion that has the only real chance of restor­ing democ­racy to Amer­ica.”

Mr. Wendt told The Times that he is re­luc­tantly get­ting be­hind Mrs. Clinton now that she is the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, mostly be­cause he op­poses Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump.

“I have all the same con­cerns,” he said of Mrs. Clinton. “But I think the guy who is the op­po­si­tion is men­tally un­fit. I think he is a dan­ger­ous man.”

Al­though Mr. Wendt has not yet do­nated to Mrs. Clinton’s cam­paign, he said he would prob­a­bly make a “small con­tri­bu­tion” closer to the end of the race.

Among Mr. Clinton’s par­dons was a re­prieve for his sec­re­tary of Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment, Henry Cis­neros, who had pleaded guilty to a mis­de­meanor count of ly­ing to the FBI.

Mr. Cis­neros has been a ma­jor Demo­cratic donor, and his $2,700 con­tri­bu­tion to Mrs. Clinton last year isn’t a sur­prise. He also do­nated to her suc­cess­ful 2000 and 2006 Se­nate cam­paigns.

Mr. Clinton also par­doned for­mer Ari­zona Gov. John Fife Syming­ton III, a Repub­li­can who, de­spite the benev­o­lence from the Clin­tons, has re­mained a promi­nent GOP donor, in­clud­ing a $5,000 do­na­tion to a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee sup­port­ing for­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in this year’s pri­mary.

P.S. Ruck­man Jr., a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist who runs the blog Par­, said for ma­jor po­lit­i­cal fig­ures, it’s not sur­pris­ing a par­don would change their po­lit­i­cal stripes.

But for those who aren’t steeped in pol­i­tics, he said, it is sur­pris­ing that the ul­ti­mate con­stituent ser­vice — a pres­i­den­tial par­don — didn’t en­gen­der more loy­alty.

“Here are these peo­ple, they re­ceived re­ally an ex­tra­or­di­nary act from a pres­i­dent these days, and yet it didn’t seem to sway them or change them,” he said.

Mr. Ruck­man said there’s a long his­tory of the par­doned turn­ing their backs on those who par­doned them — dat­ing back to Thomas Jef­fer­son.

James Cal­len­der, a po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist who had been jailed un­der the Alien and Sedi­tion Acts, re­ceived a par­don from Jef­fer­son. But Cal­len­der then de­manded Jef­fer­son ap­point him to be post­mas­ter in Rich­mond. When Jef­fer­son re­fused, Cal­len­der be­gan a se­ries of ar­ti­cles al­leg­ing that Jef­fer­son fa­thered chil­dren with one of his slaves, Sally Hem­mings.

“So there’s your first known in­grate,” Mr. Ruck­man said.

Among those re­cip­i­ents of Clinton par­dons who gave to Mr. Trump this year is a man con­victed of mak­ing plates to coun­ter­feit money. There are also sev­eral drug of­fend­ers.

One of those, Mr. Fer­nan­dez, who as a teenager fled with his fam­ily from Cuba af­ter Fidel Cas­tro seized power in 1959, said he doesn’t trust Mrs. Clinton to pro­tect his So­cial Se­cu­rity in­come or com­bat il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion that he said is “ru­in­ing this coun­try.”

“Im­mi­gra­tion is bring­ing lots of things into this coun­try [like] crime. Some­body’s got to pay for it. You’re go­ing to pay for it. I’m go­ing to pay for it, whether it is with money or it is with suf­fer­ing,” said Mr. Fer­nan­dez.

“The other side is the other way around. They want to bring more peo­ple in,” he said. “They don’t even know who they are.”

Mr. Fer­nan­dez, who served in the Marine Corps and said that he was sta­tioned at Guan­tanamo Bay dur­ing the Cuban Missile Cri­sis, ex­pressed re­gret about his crim­i­nal past. He said he hasn’t had a brush with the law since re­ceiv­ing the par­don.

“I’m sorry I did what I did,” he said. “I worked all of my life. I never got a penny out of the gov­ern­ment.”

The San­ders donors in­cluded a man con­victed of civil dis­obe­di­ence for a Viet­nam War protest who fled and went into hid­ing us­ing a false name.

The Clinton donors, mean­while, in­cluded Ge­orge T. Brab­ham, who was par­doned for a con­vic­tion of mak­ing a false state­ment or re­port to a fed­er­ally in­sured bank. He pitched in a to­tal of $100 to Mrs. Clinton’s ef­fort, ac­cord­ing to FEC records. He did not re­turn mes­sages left at the in­sur­ance busi­ness he owns in Austin, Texas.

Al­fredo Re­gal­ado, who owns a bail bonds busi­ness in Ed­in­burg, Texas, didn’t re­turn mes­sages in­quir­ing about his $1,700 con­tri­bu­tion to Mrs. Clinton’s cam­paign. He was par­doned af­ter be­ing con­victed of fail­ing to re­port the trans­porta­tion of more than $10,000 in cur­rency into the United States.


The good­will of many granted par­dons by for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton dur­ing his White House years does not ex­tend to his wife, Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clinton.


For­mer Ari­zona Gov. John Fife Syming­ton III, a Repub­li­can, got a Clinton par­don but do­nates to the GOP.

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