OK. Imagine a place where the ruler and key staff members are suspected of some crimes relating to the administration of government. Rather than face the music, the ruler just pardons everyone in danger of being indicted.
Even Richard Nixon rejected the pardon-everyone strategy. Even Ronald Reagan waited until after they were convicted to pardon constitution-subverters Oliver North and Admiral Poindexter.
But in Kentucky it seems they are either more stupid, more desperate, or more arrogant: via TPM we learn Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) is going to pardon all his aides who are suspected of patronage hiring in violation of state law.
Gov. Fletcher did not, however, pardon himself. Due to appear before a grand jury tomorrow, Gov. Fletcher said he wouldn’t testify, although he didn’t say whether he’d take the Fifth or simply be in contempt (full text of speech). And there’s talk, although it’s hard to know how serious, of impeachment.
This incident shows how the power of pre-conviction, and especially pre-indictment, amnesty can work harm (here, by removing a way for the public to get at the truth of the accusations). Nevertheless, I remain persuaded that on balance giving the executive branch the power to declare amnesties is a good and necessary thing, a power perhaps not used enough in our over-criminalized society.