Brownback pardons man convicted in 1994 theft

Gov. Sam Brownback signs an executive pardon for Mark Schmitt, who was convicted of felony theft in 1994, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017.

? Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued his first pardon as governor Tuesday when he granted executive clemency to a man convicted of theft in 1994. He also denied 72 other requests for clemency.

Mark Schmitt, a native of Liberal who now lives in Parker, Colo., was convicted in Franklin County at age 19 for filing a false insurance claim amounting to $1,551.64. He was a college student living in Ottawa at the time.

He was ordered to pay restitution and was sentenced to probation, and he has maintained a clean record ever since, according to a press release from Brownback’s office.

“This request for clemency was unanimously supported at all levels of the process,” Brownback said in the news release. “He has demonstrated he is a man of character, having already paid his debt to society, having had his criminal record expunged, and having worked through the process of requesting a pardon, and proving the worthiness of his request at every step.”

Tuesday’s announcement came amid great anticipation after his office tweeted that it involved something “unprecedented for a Republican governor in recent Kansas political memory.”

Brownback is expected to resign from office soon, once he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom in the Trump administration. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on his nomination last week but has not yet voted to recommend him to the full Senate.