Pardon Me, Did I Do Something Wrong?

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai
pardon me did i do something wrong

Among those receiving a Presidential pardon included Anthony Levandowski and Elliott Broidy. Trump’s largesse was noted in a story on Autoblog that appeared earlier today.

Levandowski, a former Google engineer, pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets on autonomous cars before moving to Uber to head up Otto, their self-driving startup. Pleading guilty in March for selling Google’s information to Uber for $680 million, in August he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Levandowski avoided serving time because he was allowed by Judge William H. Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to wait until the pandemic subsides before remanding him into custody.

In the story, according to The White House, the pardon was backed by tech industry leaders who supported Trump, including investors Peter Thiel and Blake Masters and entrepreneur Palmer Luckey.

Waymo, Google parent corporation Alphabet’s self-driving auto technology division, declined to comment. Transferring more than 14,000 Google files, including development schedules and product designs to his laptop before Levandowski left, he did so while negotiating with Uber.

After a state court ruled that Levandowski owed Google $179 million for employment contract violations, Levandowski filed for bankruptcy to negotiate his debts. In a plea deal, Levandowski agreed to pay $756,500 to cover costs Alphabet bore assisting the government’s investigation. Uber has said it intended to challenge indemnification in paying the judgment on behalf of their ex-employee. What effect the Trump pardon might have on his financial obligations is unknown.

Closer to home is the saga of Elliott Broidy, executive producer of Snake And Mongoose, a movie about drag racing legends Don ‘the Snake’ Prudhomme, and the late Tom ‘the Mongoose’ McEwen. Broidy pleaded guilty in 2009 to providing gratuities to New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who invested $250 million in Broidy’s private equity firm. In exchange for cooperation that led to the conviction of Hevesi and six other pension officials, the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, Broidy paid $18 million in restitution, and avoided incarceration.

In October, 2020, Broidy pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent, accepting money to lobby the Trump administration for Chinese and Malaysian interests. Broidy had previously served in 2016 as vice chairman of the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The felony charge to which Broidy pleaded guilty carried a prison sentence of up to five years, but yesterday, he along with a gaggle of others, received a pardon or commuted sentence by outgoing President Donald J. Trump.

It’s good to have friends in high places.

[Images:; Otto, Snake & Mongoose Productions]

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7 of 45 comments
  • PandaBear PandaBear on Jan 21, 2021

    You get Pardon, you get a Pardon, everyone gets a Pardon!

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Jan 21, 2021

    Maybe it's time for us to rethink and somehow refine this presidential pardon process. Every president - not just Trump - ends up pardoning people that probably don't deserve it, and most of these carry a big nasty whiff of political corruption. We don't need any more of that than we already have.

    • See 4 previous
    • FreedMike FreedMike on Jan 21, 2021

      @FreedMike If a president is running for re-election, then there's a built-in disinclination for handing out stinky, corrupt-looking politically-motivated pardons. Those tend to happen when the president is a short-timer with nothing to lose. Maybe it's those that we need someone to sign off on. Given that, maybe we could require a "second set of eyes" (I'm thinking Senate advise-and-consent, as they would on treaties or Cabinet appointments) if the pardon is happening, say, a year away from the president leaving office. That might make an outgoing president think twice about doing something that might reflect badly on the candidate "on their side" who's running for the job. Just spitballin', of course.

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