President Obama’s political pardons and the one he ignored

As a former staffer for Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulVaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations MORE and someone who supports the idea of criminal justice reform, and the use of presidential clemency for those deserving a second chance, I was glad to hear that President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Harris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia Biden to stump with McAuliffe Tuesday MORE intended to use his power and authority to do just that - until I actually saw the list of those sentences he commuted and convictions he pardoned.

I was even more shocked to learn of the one application that he intentionally ignored for what I believe to be political reasons.

It seems clear the President Barack Obama used the constitutional power of the president to dole out a record number of commutations and pardons that were motivated by his extremely progressive ideology. 


Out of 209 commutations, 41 had firearms convictions. Two death row murder convictions were commuted to life sentences, then there was Mitchell Ray Campbell of Twin Falls, Idaho, who was pardoned on two separated convictions: the first, a cocaine distribution and filing a false tax return for which he received a 3-year sentence. His second conviction was for distribution of cocaine and felon in possession of a firearm. He was pardoned of both. James Robert Adelman, who was sentenced to 12 years for embezzlement was also pardoned. Over one-fifth of the commutations involved some element of violence.

If those weren’t bad enough, there was Puerto Rican terrorist Oscar Lopez-Rivera. Lopez-Rivera helped establish the violent Puerto Rican independence group the FALN. The group was best known for bombing the Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan in 1975 that killed four people, and was tied to at least 100 bombings, most in New York, including the 1982 New Year’s Eve bombings of NYPD Headquarters that left three NYPD officers seriously injured, blinded or maimed.

Lopez-Rivera was offered a commutation by President Clinton in 1999, but refused because President Clinton required him to publically renounce terrorism. President Obama didn’t care if he renounced terrorism or not and commented his sentence anyway.

Then there was Private Manning who likely had a sentence for leaking 750,000 classified documents commuted because President Obama was motivated by LGBT politics more so than the merits of this case.

These were the clemency applications that President Obama entertained: violent drug thugs, a murdering terrorist who refused to renounce terror, and classified leaker Manning.

Contrast these, to one application that he obviously intentionally ignored:

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was convicted of false statements and tax charges relating to his children's nanny and some apartment renovations in 2009, and sentenced to 48 months in federal prison. 

It was Kerik that lead the NYPD's response, rescue, recovery and investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, and was President Bush's appointment as interim minister of the interior of the Iraq in 2003. In 2004 President Bush nominated Kerik to take over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and he subsequently withdrew his name from consideration after admitting that he employed an illegal nanny to take care of his children.

Kerik’s pardon application was quietly submitted to President Obama in November 2016, which documented his 30 year career in law enforcement and read like an action packed novel.

Tim Parlatore, Kerik’s attorney wrote to the president:


“Bernard B. Kerik… served his country with distinction, honor, and valor.... Born in Newark, New Jersey… at the age of 3, he was abandoned by his mother, who was beaten to death when he was 9 years old.

A high school dropout, he later volunteered for the U.S. Army, earned his GED, and served in the Military Police Corps in Korea and at Fort Bragg, N.C. There he taught defensive tactics at the John F. Kennedy Unconventional Warfare Center, to U.S. Special Forces and special operations personnel.

Mr. Kerik was appointed the 40th Police Commissioner of the City of New York, responsible for 55,000 civilian and uniform personnel, and a $3.2 billion budget. His term was marked by dramatic reductions in crime, enhanced community relations, and his unflinching leadership and oversight, as he led New York City through the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11, overseeing the rescue, recovery and investigation. In 2001, he was one of the founding members of the Board of Trustees of the Twin Towers Fund, which raised and distributed $216 million to over 600 families related the emergency service workers killed on 9/11. 

In the line of duty, he has rescued people from burning buildings, been stabbed, shot at, and saved his partner who had been wounded in a gun battle. He has seized tons of cocaine and millions in drug proceeds from the Cali Cartel, and brought cop killers, Colombian drug lords and Iraqi terrorists to justice.

His service to his country has been recognized with more than 100 awards for public and heroic service. He was commended for heroism by President Ronald Reagan, and received the DEA Administrator's Award from the U.S. Justice Department, two Distinguished Service Awards from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and an appointment as Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

This is the man that President Obama ignored, because he was a former police officer and not a member of a protected class.

Kerik is a man who has over 100 awards for public and heroic service, including the NYC Police Department Medal for Valor. The case for Kerik to receive a pardon is strong, as opposed to the commutation of the sentence for an avowed terrorist.

President Obama should have given Kerik a pardon, and I pray that President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE can right this intentional oversight by the Obama administration.

Brian Darling is former Counsel and Sr. Communications Director for Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.  You can follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.