P.S. Ruckman, a pardon expert and professor of political science at Rock Valley College in Illinois, said that many of those who seek presidential pardons do so because they want to be able to own a gun and hunt ... Seeking restoration of civil rights through presidential pardons has become more common over the past 60 years, Ruckman said, adding that the pardon power was previously used more to commute sentences.Prevost says Rumsey’s grandfather was "a well-known sculptor from a wealthy and politically connected family." But the article also notes that, while the media tend to focus on the clemency applications of wealthy and powerful individuals, the typical applicant (and recipient) is neither.
... After Harry Truman granted a handful of pardons to individuals who had not applied for them, Dwight Eisenhower took up the issue, pledging greater transparency, Ruckman said, but the process remains cloaked in secrecy. Modern presidents have delegated the process to deputy attorneys general and have typically issued pardons near the end of their terms, offering no explanations or justifications, he said. “The process was more transparent in the early 1900s than it is right now. Back then, the annual report of the attorney general listed every person pardoned … and had remarks from the attorney general or president explaining the reason why,” he said.
Taking it a step further, the article notes that it is difficult to trace clemency decisions to political donations because - among other reasons - "up in the big-money areas" political donations cross party isles. Prevost writes, "Public documents available from the Federal Election Commission show that Rumsey made $10,700 in political contributions over the past four years, split about evenly between Democratic and Republican candidates and groups."