In 1987, H. Guy Hunt was elected Governor of Alabama, the first Republican elected to the position since Reconstruction. In 1991, a taxpayer sued Hunt, claiming he improperly used state funds to travel to out-of-state religious events. As a result of the suit, the Attorney General initiated an investigation into Hunt’s finances. In 1993, he was convicted of using $200,000 in campaign funds for personal purchases. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, with all 5 years suspended, and was ordered to pay $210,000 in fines and perform 1,000 hours of community service. Hunt maintained that he was innocent, and the victim of a political vendetta. He claimed that the funds were reimbursement for his own money he had previously invested in his campaign, but he was forced to resign as governor.
In 1997, the Board of Pardons recommended that Hunt receive a full pardon. Because Hunt was still on probation, he needed a state official to sign off on the pardon, but Hunt could not find an appropriate state official willing to finalize the pardon. In 1998, Hunt asked a state judge to commute his remaining 4 months of probation, but the judge refused, instead adding 5 years to his probation term because he had not paid the $210,000 fine. Hunt then raised the money to pay the fine, lifting his probation. Later that year, in March 1998, the Board of Pardons again recommended a full pardon. Because Hunt was no longer on probation, the pardon became official without the need for action by any additional state official. Hunt passed away in January 2009.
- Stephanie Denzel