Jewish World Review Dec. 31, 2002 / 26 Teves, 5763
Kenneth Lay blasts Bush’s presidential
Crooks pardoned over Christmas were ‘small-time,’ former Enron CEO complains
One week after President George W. Bush granted pre-Christmas pardons to seven
Americans who had been convicted of minor offenses years ago, former Enron CEO
Kenneth Lay blasted Mr. Bush’s selections, saying that the criminals he pardoned
were “strictly small-time.”
“It’s beneath the dignity of the office of President of the United States to issue
pardons to such minor offenders,” Mr. Lay said in a press conference today. “It
demeans the very institution of presidential pardons themselves.”
The people Mr. Bush pardoned – including a Tennessee man who manufactured
untaxed whiskey in 1962 and a Washington man who stole $38,000 worth of copper
wire in 1972 – did not commit crimes worthy of a presidential pardon, Mr. Lay said.
“In order to earn a pardon, a person should lose billions of other people's money,
perhaps by looting a major corporation,” Mr. Lay added. “Anything less than that
turns the whole idea of presidential pardons into a joke.”
In New York, former President Bill Clinton offered muted agreement with Mr. Lay’s
comments, saying that he had reserved the use of presidential pardons “for
big-time sleazebags only.”
“When [fugitive financier] Marc Rich hears about Bush pardoning that copper wire
guy, he’s going to have a cow,” Mr. Clinton said. “Getting a presidential pardon used
to put you in kind of an exclusive club, but I guess that’s gone now. It’s kind of sad.”
At a press conference in Switzerland, Mr. Rich said that he found the Bush pardons
“regrettable” before running out the back door and disappearing in a helicopter.
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JWR Contributor Andy Borowitz, a former president of the Harvard Lampoon, is a regular humor columnist for Newsweek.com, The New Yorker, The New York Times and TV Guide. Recognized by Esquire magazine as one of the most powerful producers in television, he was the creator and producer of the hit TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and producer of the Oscar-nominated film Pleasantville. He is the author, most recently, of "Trillionaire Next Door: The Greedy Investor's Guide to Day Trading" and "Rationalizations to Live By". Comments by clicking here. Visit his website by clicking here.
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© 2002, Andy Borowitz