Thursday, October 30, 2008

Campaign 08: Ron Paul's Pardon Request?

In his 1987 resignation letter from the GOP, Ron Paul wrote, among other things:
Under Reagan, the IRS has grown bigger, richer, more powerful, and more arrogant. In the words of the founders of our country, our government has "sent hither swarms" of tax gatherers "to harass our people and eat out their substance." His officers jailed the innocent George Hansen, with the President refusing to pardon a great American whose only crime was to defend the Constitution. Reagan's new tax "reform" gives even more power to the IRS. Far from making taxes fairer or simpler, it deceitfully raises more revenue for the government to waste.
Who is Hansen? Hansen came to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in Idaho's Second District in 1964. In 1976 he plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of violating the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act. On the other hand, Hansen declared that his "deficiencies" (amounting to a total of about $16,000) were not "intentional" and that he had no plans to resign from his seat in Congress. Judge George L. Hart originally sentenced Hansen to one year in jail with ten months suspended. But, one week later, Hart decided Hansen was "stupid" but not necessarily "evil." The punishment was thus reduced to a mere $2,000 fine and Hansen was reelected!

In April of 1984, Hansen was convicted on four counts of violating the 1978 Federal Ethics in Government Act and was looking at the possibility of 5 to 15 months in jail for failing to report over $300,000 worth of loans and other transactions on his financial disclosure funds. After being reprimanded by the House, Hansen appealed the conviction and ran for reelection. And, at first, it first appeared that he had won. When the dust settled however, he had lost by a mere 68 votes. A federal appeals court, which featured future Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Ginsburg upheld the conviction and Hansen spent 15 months in prison and was fined $40,000. When his experience there was over, he told reporters, "There's a story that needs to be told, and it'll be out shortly,"

Amazingly, Hansen was convicted again, in 1992, of engaging in bank fraud amounting to more than $2 million. With a possible sentence of 30 years and fines of up to $45 million on the plate, it appeared to be curtains. When all was said and done, Hansen spent over 4 years in prison, but in December, 1995, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his sentence.

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