Bush Pardons Small-Time Meth Dealer

ByABC News
December 21, 2006, 7:28 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2006 — -- Four days before Christmas, President Bush granted pardons to 16 people, including a man convicted of dealing methamphetamine and another who, along with his family, donated to the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

Of the 16 pardons, six were for people convicted of minor drug violations, six were for people convicted of making false statements on bank or money loans. The other pardons involved a conspiracy case to defraud the government, a false statement case, a kickback conviction and an alcohol tax violation charge dating to 1969.

Including the 16 pardons today, Bush has issued 113 pardons and three clemency requests during his presidency.

Phillip Anthony Emmert, the only one of the 16 pardoned today who is currently in jail, was convicted of distributing methamphetamine but will have that sentence commuted.

The other 15 will have their records expunged and have certain rights restored, such as the right to vote.

Presidential pardons have drawn renewed scrutiny since President Clinton pardoned financier Marc Rich in 2001. Rich had fled the United States in 1983 to avoid prosecution by the government on tax-evasion charges.

Outrage over the case came to light when it was revealed that his wife, Denise Rich, had contributed money to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton's presidential library.

According to a Federal Election Commission record search conducted by ABC News, one of the 16 people in the presidential pardons announced today by the Justice Department has donated money to the Republican National Committee and the Bush campaign.

Dale C. Critz Jr. was convicted in 1989 of making false statements in a case. He never served time but was given three years probation for his offense.

He and members of his immediate family have made donations to Republican candidates and the RNC. On April 7, 2003, Critz donated $500 to the RNC and on Sept. 30, 2003, his father, Dale C. Critz, donated $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

"The Department of Justice conducts a thorough review of each clemency case but does not consider campaign contributions relevant to the analysis," Justice Department spokeswoman Kathleen Blomquist said.

Calls by ABC News to Critz and his lawyer, John Hogan of Miami, were not returned Thursday.