Haley Barbour's Pardons

Haley "drunk drivers are my friends" Barbour
When Mississippi governor Haley Barbour left office last month, he created a furor by pardoning 198 convicted criminals.  The New York Times today describes some of the people pardoned, and the connections they had.  This is one of the most shocking articles I've ever read in the Times. That Barbour continues to have respect and influence in the Republican party is utterly scandalous.

Who was pardoned ... and why?
  • Joel Vann, who killed Scotty Plunk in a drunk driving accident when he was 19.  Connection: his father was the "brother-in-law of a former Republican state committee member and contributor to Mr. Barbour"
  • Burton Waldon, who killed an 8-month-old baby in a drunk driving accident, and never served any time for it.  Connection: "He is a member of the prominent Hill Brothers Construction Company family, big money political donors who give mostly to Republicans, including Mr. Barbour.
  • Doug Hindman, who was arrested for "exchanging hundreds of sexually explicit messages with an undercover officer posing as an under-age girl."  Connection: a "family friend" of Hindman's had lunch with the Barbours in the governor's mansion shortly before sending an appeal for clemency.
  • Anonymous (the Times doesn't give the name, unfortunately), who "participated in a gang rape of a 17-year-old in 1976".  Connection: his appeal "included a reference letter from his employer, a large donor to Mr. Barbour and other Republicans."
  • Eldridge Bonds, "who in 2003 pleaded no contest to forcible sexual battery" of a 14-year-old girl.  Connection: his appeal included a letter from the dean of the University of Mississippi's School of Education.
  • Harry R. Bostick, who "was sentenced in May 2010 for his third drunken driving offense--a felony--and ordered into treatment."  In October 2011, he was arrested for a fourth drunken driving offense, "this time in an accident that left an 18-year-old waitress dead."  Then, on January 10 2012, Barbour pardoned him for his third felony DUI.  Connection: "Several former government lawyers and law enforcement officers who worked with him on federal tax prosecutions submitted letters on his behalf."
Barbour has now been disowned by the Republican party, right?  Um, no.

This story pretty much leaves me speechless.


Achrachno said...

These guys all earned their pardons by establishing they are part of Barbour's tribe. They or their families have supported Barbour and/or his friends. It's all about allies.

Why would Republicans repudiate Barbour? If he'd done something to support someone in an opposing group, that'd be anther matter. Helping killers and rapists who are on your side is fine. Sending $5 to the DNC would be unforgivable.

ianbargain said...

At first sight, it is appalling. But overall, it is a step in the right direction. Our criminal justice system is unfair to start with and all the decades of "tough on crime" rhetoric has really made it vicious. Sentencing should be ideally individualized by a judge and reviewable by a higher court for abuse of discretion. So many crimes now have mandatory minimums that there isn't really any leeway.

Even in one the examples you picked - he pardoned a guy convicted of gang rape - terrible crime and he should be locked up if he is still a danger. But he has already served 36 years - more than possible in all other western jurisdiction.

It is unfair that in the way he picked these particular criminals. But that is true for all lobbying using political contributions. In any case, all pardons are necessarily capricious, given the sheer number of people locked up. This is the only time in my lifetime, republicans are saying something besides "tough on crime". May be something will come of it.

Marty said...

Many of those pardoned worked in the Governor's mansion. I guess he figured if he felt safe enough in his house with them there, we should not be worried about them being on the streets. But then he has lots of guards who conceal and carry guns and know how to use them!