Neil Abercrombie pardoned more than 80 people during his single term as governor of Hawaii, with most of those actions coming after he lost the Democratic primary Aug. 9.

A few pardons are still pending, but the current totals show that Abercrombie pardoned more people this year — 50 — than his Republican predecessor, Linda Lingle, who forgave 49 people for their crimes in her last year in office in 2010.

Lingle pardoned a total of 148 people in her two terms, including 21 on her first day as governor, according to data from the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office.

Her predecessor, Democrat Ben Cayetano, pardoned 187 people in his two terms, including 60 during his last year in office.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie during an interview with Civil Beat.

Former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie followed the trend of his predecessors by issuing most of his pardons during his last year in office.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Had Abercrombie won re-election and kept up a similar pace in his second term, he would have exceeded Lingle in total pardons granted.

Several pardons are waiting to be processed, so Abercrombie’s total could increase from 83, the AG’s office said.

Some of the most common crime categories for which Abercrombie granted pardons included drugs, theft, minor assaults and abuse of a family member. Lingle and Cayetano tended to pardon similar crimes.

Gubernatorial pardons can be controversial, especially if the offender is politically connected or was convicted of a particularly heinous crime. Some governors avoid issuing pardons altogether.

Recently, actor Mark Wahlberg unsuccessfully sought a pardon from Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick for assaults Wahlberg committed during his youth.

In Arkansas, outgoing Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe made headlines by announcing plans to pardon his son for a marijuana conviction.

“It certainly is a tradition in the American governmental system that the executives, especially on their way out, do these midnight actions and issue a lot of pardons,” said John Hart, professor of communication at Hawaii Pacific University.

“The question for pardons always is why?” said Hart. “What’s the rationale for these people? There’s always some concern — proven or otherwise — that this is some sort of payback.”

Abercrombie’s Dec. 1 pardon for Shaun Rodrigues received some media attention.

Rodrigues was convicted of a home invasion robbery in 2000 in which he tied up a woman and her daughter at gunpoint and took their belongings. He has maintained his innocence.

Two other notable pardons signed by Abercrombie are for Lawrence Stem and Wasim Siddiqui, both of which were issued Nov. 25.

Stem was a Kauai police officer who, along with two colleagues, pleaded no contest to theft charges as well as tampering with a government record after being caught lying about going to a conference on Maui in 2005.

The officers took the government-paid trip to the neighbor island for a marijuana eradication training session, but never attended the event. They attempted to cover up their absence by falsifying reports.

Siddiqui was a University of Hawaii professor who was accused of stealing $134,000 from a federal malaria vaccine research program in the early 1990s. He was convicted of theft and criminal solicitation in 1992.

Abercrombie could not be reached for comment Monday.

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