President Bush
(December 2008)

The ethics verdict on the administration of George W. Bush will be harsh indeed. But in his waning days in office, President Bush managed an act of executive integrity that may be unprecedented. It conferred no political advantage (it was barely reported on by the media) and occurred in a realm — presidential pardons — where he has been historically (and unmercifully) stingy. True to form, his action involved not giving a pardon, rather than giving one. But he did the right thing, for no reason other than the fact that it was the right thing.

President Bush had granted a pardon to Brooklyn, N.Y. real estate developer Isaac Robert Toussie, who had been convicted of mail fraud and of making false statements to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But the President had not been informed that Toussie’s relatives contributed more than $40,000 to Republicans before his clemency petition was filed with the White House. When he learned of the contributions, Bush withdrew the pardon that he had granted the day before.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said neither Bush nor White House Counsel Fred Fielding were aware of the contributions to the GOP from Toussie’s father and others until after the pardon had been granted.

” It raises the appearance of impropriety,” Perino said, “so the president prudently decided not to go through with the pardon.”

Correctly so. The contributions combined with the pardon raise the specter of an unethical quid pro quo. With the Governor of Illinois trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, and bad memories of President Clinton’s bought-and-paid-for pardon of fugitive Marc Rich as Clinton was leaving office, Bush was right to hold himself to an unusually high standard.

Comment on this article


Business & Commercial
Sports & Entertainment
Government & Politics
Science & Technology
Professions & Institutions

The Ethics Scoreboard, ProEthics, Ltd., 2707 Westminster Place, Alexandria, VA 22305
Telephone: 703-548-5229    E-mail: ProEthics President

© 2007 Jack Marshall & ProEthics, Ltd     Disclaimers, Permissions & Legal Stuff    Content & Corrections Policy