Democrat governor mulling 2020 presidential run grants clemency to criminals

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper issued pardons to 23 people with criminal records on Friday, bringing his total while in office to 89, according to reports.

The Democrat's pardon letters were granted to people who finished their sentences and became "contributing members of their communities," the governor's office announced, according to the Denver Post.

Hundreds of people have applied for a pardon from the governor, the report said.

Hickenlooper, 66, has been Colorado's governor since January 2011. He will be leaving office in January because state term limits prevented him from seeking a third term.

Another Democrat -- Jared Polis, 43, who was elected Tuesday and will be the state's first openly gay governor -- will succeed Hickenlooper.

The governor's review of petitions for clemency takes into consideration input from various sources, including crime victims, victim advocates, judges and prosecutors, Denver's Fox 31 reported.

Drugs, theft and fraud were the most common criminal offenses among the people pardoned Friday, the Post reported.

“The chance of getting a pardon largely depends on individual circumstances,” criminal defense attorney H. Michael Steinberg of Greenwood Village writes on his website. “The older and less serious the conviction, and the more compelling the life story is, the higher the chance of getting a pardon.”

Hickenlooper has said he plans to review about 475 clemency petitions before he leaves office, according to Fox 31.

The pardons allow those convicted of felonies to apply to restore their right to possess firearms, the paper reported.

In October, while he was at a New Hampshire cafe, Hickenlooper said he was "leaning strongly" toward a presidential run.

“To be honest, I haven’t made the final decision. And if I say I’m absolutely going to, there are all kind of legal ramifications,” Hickenlooper said.

So far, he’s already traveled to Iowa and started a political action committee, according to media reports.