Hillary Gets Donations From Three Bill Pardoned

The Hillary Clinton campaign kerfuffle of the day is that, as reported by ABC’s Jake Tapper, she received contributions from people her husband pardoned.

Three recipients of controversial 11th-hour pardons issued by former President Bill Clinton in January 2001 have donated thousands of dollars to the presidential campaign of his wife, Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., according to campaign finance records examined by ABC News, in what some good government groups said created an appearance of impropriety.

“It’s not illegal,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told ABC News. “But, of course, it’s inappropriate and she should return the money. It does raise the appearance that this is payback. “One can only hope that she wasn’t yet aware of who made the donations,” said Sloan.

“We have raised over $65 million from over 200,000 people,” said Clinton campaign manager Howard Wolfson, adding sarcastically, “I appreciate your bringing the instance of this $5,300 and these three people to our attention.”

That strikes me, as a decided non-fan of the Clintons, as an effective answer.

Calculating though the Clintons are, it’s more than a stretch to think that Bill was issuing pardons in 2001 in hopes of raising $1000 and $2000 political contributions to Hillary’s 2008 war chest. Shoot, for that kind of money, you couldn’t get an invite to a coffee, let alone a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. A pardon? Not bloody likely.

And these people have, like it or not, been pardoned for their crimes and are perfectly free to donate money to their favorite candidates. Given that they are all Democrats and Hillary is the frontrunner, that three of them donated to her is hardly surprising. Indeed, given that Bill pardoned 140 people on his last day in office alone (and it was only a half day!), that ABC could only find three matches is stunning.

The three are interesting, however, purely for amusement value:

… David Herdlinger, a former prosecutor in Springdale, Ark., who, according to press accounts at the time of his pardon pleaded guilty in 1986 to mail fraud after taking bribes to reduce or drop charges against defendants charged with drunken driving offenses. Now a life and business coach in Georgia, Herdlinger was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001; he donated $1,000 to Sen. Clinton’s presidential campaign in August.

Insurance agent Alfredo Regalado, who gave Hillary Clinton $2,000, was pardoned by her husband for failing to “report the transportation of currency in excess of $10,000 into the United States,” according to the Department of Justice.

While even “kerfuffle” is probably too strong a word to describe this, it is nonetheless amusing that these two were pardoned for bribery and money laundering crimes.

John Deutch is a different case, having served as President Clinton’s CIA director. Pardoned by President Clinton for charges he had mishandled government secrets — but before the Department of Justice could file the proper paperwork against him — Deutch, now a professor at MIT, gave Sen. Clinton the maximum allowable donation, $2,300.

Deutch’s crime certainly paled in comparison to Sandy Berger’s. Deutch’s was a crime of ineptitude, not intentional destruction of documents.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I think an interesting question would be if she plans to fire all the people in the travel office again, keep FBI files on those who she call enemies, and charge how much to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom. Further, what is she planning to charge for pardons. Must one go through her brother this time or just directly to her. What are her plans to keep Bill away from the interns?

  2. Christopher says:

    They only gave her $5300? Yea right. Maybe like that guy Hsu only “raised” money for Hillary, all perfectly legal though he sits in prison today. Or like that rundown house near the LA airport gave thousands to Hillary. Or like…well, u get the point.

  3. Anderson says:

    Calculating though the Clintons are

    You know, I think we could use a little more calculation in the White House these days ….

  4. James Joyner says:

    You know, I think we could use a little more calculation in the White House these days ….

    Well, at least when Rove was there, Democrats always thought the administration was quite calculating in that particular sense of the word.

  5. Anderson says:

    True, I actually thought of that on preview. I think the case could be made that Rove and the Clintons are stamped from a similar mold.