A Look Inside Bush's 'Pardongate'

After first pardoning "a Brooklyn real estate developer accused of scamming hundreds of poor, minority homebuyers - and whose father donated $28,500 to the Republican Party this year," the Bush White House moved quickly to reverse course. Bush revoked the pardon for Isaac Toussie after the White House acknowledged that the Brooklyn housing scammer did not meet pardon guidelines.

Putting aside the fact that Bush decided it was fine to grant a pardon for a predatory mortgage lender in the midst of a recession, there were a number of other improprieties in the pardon of Toussie:

- First of all, it had been granted by Bush despite the fact that the Pardon Attorney, Ronald L. Rogers, had not given a formal recommendation for it.

- Also, Toussie had not qualified for a pardon per Justice Department guidelines because it had not yet been five years since the completion of his sentence.

- Furthermore, Toussie's pardon came after his father, Robert, made his first political donation of $28,500 to the national Republican party in April.

Perhaps the most intriguing matter is the process by which the White House decided to issue the pardon. Toussie had hired Bradford Berenson, a former top lawyer in the White House counsel's office from 2001-2003, to handle the case.


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