Herald-Leader : Claims about Beshear’s record on pardons half true
By John Cheves — firstname.lastname@example.org Posted: 12:34pm on Oct 21, 2011; 2011-10-21T16:40:11Z
By John Cheves Herald-Leader
The statement: “When Steve Beshear became governor, one of his early actions was to grant pardons to convicted felons. Governor Beshear has granted partial pardons to at least eight convicted murderers and 14 rapists, allowing them to vote and even run for office.”
— Restoring America, an outside group supporting Republican gubernatorial nominee David Williams, in a television commercial airing this week.
The ruling: Half true.
The facts: The commercial misleadingly implies that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has pardoned criminals and set them free from prison.
The narrator initially uses the term “pardon,” as does the text on the screen (“Governor Beshear grants pardons to convicted felons.”) A grainy black-and-white video shows men walking out of a prison cell.
Kentucky governors do have the power to pardon those charged with or convicted of crimes. A pardon wipes the slate clean and ends a criminal case. But Beshear hasn’t issued any pardons.
Like the governors who preceded him, Beshear has issued partial pardons, also known as a restoration of civil rights. Felons who complete their sentences can apply to the governor for a partial pardon so they again can vote and hold elected office. It does not clear their records or return all of their lost rights, such as the right to own a gun.
It’s true that Beshear has issued partial pardons to the felons cited in the commercial, including eight convicted murderers in 2008. All had completed their sentences.
Restoring America fails to mention the role that Republican candidate David Williams played in partial pardons. As a state senator, Williams voted with most of the General Assembly in 2001 to make it easier for felons to apply for a partial pardon after they left prison or parole. Prior to that, felons had to initiate on their own a complicated application process.