01/03/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Avoiding George Ryan Clemency Controversy

President-elect Barack Obama is steering clear of the heated debate over whether former Governor George Ryan should receive a pardon or some other form of clemency from President Bush, Greg Hinz reports in Crain's Chicago Business:

A one-sentence statement, released midday Wednesday after repeated media inquiries, said: "As the incoming president, he doesn't feel it appropriate to involve himself in pardon and commutation decisions at this time."

Earlier in the day, Obama aides had indicated a statement on the Ryan matter was coming, but wouldn't tip their hand as to the contents.

The issue has been a hot topic since Senator Dick Durbin said last week that he was considering asking President Bush to commute Ryan's six-and-a-half-year racketeering sentence. On Monday, Durbin released the letter he sent to President Bush making his request official.

As Capitol Fax's Rich Miller noted, Durbin said that he would not ask Obama to commute Ryan's sentence if Bush does not.