Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ex-gov to President Bush let Ryan go

From today's Sun-Times. I'm thinking this is a bad idea. Not sure why, perhaps because Bush has his own problems on different fronts and some of them have nothing to do with Iraq:
The highest court in the land refused to hear his plea. Now only one person can help George Ryan:

President Bush.

After the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the disgraced former governor's request for an appeal, Ryan's lawyer -- former Gov. Jim Thompson -- said he would ask Bush to commute Ryan's 6½-year prison sentence.

"The man has gone from being the governor of the state of Illinois to being a prisoner in the federal penitentiary," Thompson said. "His career is gone. His reputation is gone. His pension for the moment is gone. . . . I think everybody's interests have been served."

Even with time off for good behavior, Ryan, 74, wouldn't get out of prison until he's nearly 80, Thompson said. "I think it would be appropriate for the president of the United States to commute to time served."

If Ryan's sentence were commuted, his conviction would stand, but he would be freed.

Thompson's comments came after the top court declined without comment to take up Ryan's appeal. Ryan was convicted in 2006 of steering state contracts and leases to friends, and, in return, taking cash, gifts and trips. He was also convicted of lying to FBI agents and filing false tax returns.

"It appears that the long legal saga is finally over," said Patrick Collins, the former prosecutor on Ryan's case. "I've never taken any pleasure that George Ryan has to serve an extended prison sentence." But wiping out Ryan's sentence, he said, "would send a terrible message to the public and to the victims of corruption."

Seeking a commuted sentence, rather than a pardon, could improve Ryan's chances, Thompson said. "Asking for a commutation acknowledges the conviction," he said.

Ryan's racketeering conviction included efforts as secretary of state to quash a probe into a highway tragedy that killed six children of the Willis family in 1994. On Tuesday, Willis family attorney Joe Power had little empathy for Ryan.

"He's had over 70 years of a good life which the Willis children have been deprived of," Power said. Power said Republicans have led the call for tougher sentencing.

"Should we give out exceptions now for Republican governors?" Power said.
We'll see if President Bush will come thru for him. I still think Gov. Ryan should serve his time. Letting old school politic reign has cost him something when he could've have taken a stand against it.

BTW, Gov. Ryan before he left office in 2003 commuted all death row sentences in Illinois after placing a moratorium during his single term in office. He was about to be nominated for a Nobel peace prize although he was at the time either under indictment or on trial for corruption. I've always wondered whether or not him doing this was all political or genuine.

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