The Long Goodbye: Rendell’s Pardons, Future Plans, Legacy
Governor Ed Rendell is rounding the lower funnel of his time in Harrisburg, and we doubt he’s coming out the bottom unscathed. He’s leaving the state in a deep debt, has just made State Treasurer Rob McCord to begrudgingly sign off on a $650 million infrastructure bond issue (he wanted $1 billion) for six months of projects and made history for the number of pardons by a modern governor. His strange circumstances continue making headlines and deserve a recount over the coming weeks.
• The Associated Press reported on Friday that during his time in office, Rendell’s signed “more than twice as many pardons as any other governor in modern times,” – a whopping 1,059, to be exact, with 29 more awaiting action on his desk. The AP also details former Pennsylvania governors, and how many they’ve traditionally granted:
That shattered the previous record set by the late Democratic Gov. Milton Shapp, who signed 475 pardons during his tenure in the 1970s. Among other recent governors, Republican Dick Thornburgh signed 61; the late Democrat Robert Casey, 311; Republican Tom Ridge, 270; and Republican Mark Schweiker, who finished the final 15 months of Ridge’s term, 338.
Rendell’s press secretary, Gary Tuma, rejected critical questions by saying the Pardons Board had sent Rendell 10 times as many pardon recommendations as the next highest governor. The press secretary also said the increase has to do with background checks, though, similar to Philadelphia DA Seth Williams’ recent pardon, it’s unclear if the true motivations – similar to California’s coming prisoner release – have more to do with the budget.
• And while this, and other faux pas’, are going on – he’s coming off rumors of an affair with an aide, the Governor-elect ran a proxy campaign against him, his administration spied on numerous groups the state over – he’s come into his own as an Obama defender/apologist, his quotes appearing in emails and press releases from the White House and making time on MSNBC to praise the president he once campaigned against during the 2008 election.
You can even check out said press release, in which Rendell’s quoted as saying, “The president did a good job. He only extended the millionaire’s tax cut for two years. After that, we can peel it back to Reagan-Clinton levels…I hate the fact we gave a tax cut to the very rich. When President Clinton raised the tax in 1993, they said it’s going to be a job killer by hurting the job creators. But the opposite happened; we created 23.5 million new jobs. That’s the important thing, so the Republicans are full of bull. But they had the cards here and the president had no choice. He created a very good bargain for working-class and middle-class Americans.”
• Lastly, take this as you will, but John Baer was at the Pennsylvania Society Weekend and found this little gem:
Gov. Ed’s here, and a source close to his afterlife says he’s looking to join the board of a national infrastructure venture and working toward a TV contract with MSNBC for a once-weekly gig on either “Morning Joe” or “Hardball,” shows he frequents.