The Spectacle Blog

Huckabee Just Lies About DuMond

By on 12.7.07 | 8:21AM

I hate to beat a dead horse, but Mike Huckabee keeps falsifying and falsifying, and shifting more and more blame, in the case of rapist Wayne DuMond. Do we really want such a weasel as president? I mean, this is a guy who refuses to accept responsibility for his own mistakes. As amply reported elsewhere, DuMond was relased only after public and private lobbying by Huckabee in support of that release. Four different parole board members said they released DuMond because Huck wanted them to. Huck says they were all Democratic appointees, conveniently leaving out that HE reappointed at least one (I think two or three -- I'll have to check this -- but at least one of the key ones) of them. And so on. The record is abundantly clear, but all Huck does is keep blaming the parole board and blaming predecessor Jim Guy Tucker for "commuting" DuMond's sentence. But a commutation down to 39 years (which Huck publicly supported anyway) is NOT the same thing as a grant of parole. Anyway, here is the real story, by an award-winning journalist whose reporting on this case in Arkansas is accepted left, center and right. Now compare it to is the pack of obfuscations and buckpassing by Huck to Wolf Blitzer, and see if this is the kind of stand-up leader and (non)truth-teller that ought to be in the Oval Office:

HUCKABEE: My heart goes out to the Shields' family. There's no way to ever say anything that would bring some type of resolution to the understandable grief they have.

And quite frankly, I don't blame people for being angry, whether they are angry at me or they want to be angry at the governor before me who actually commuted his sentence, which I didn't do. Or angry at the parole board for paroling him. And if I'm the object of the anger, I understand that. I accept that.

BLITZER: Well, what -- but let me ask you this...

HUCKABEE: There's nothing bright about this situation. It's a horrible thing.

BLITZER: Well, what responsibility do you have in this horrible tragedy that developed?

HUCKABEE: Wolf, my only official action in this was I denied his commutation. It was actual given by Jim Guy Tucker when Bill Clinton was governor back in 1992.

It was on my desk. I did consider it. I even thought that he met the criteria for parole in support of it.

I wish I hadn't. But I didn't parole him. And governors don't parole people in Arkansas, nor can they stop a parole. And that's the tragedy, I think, that this went through several years and many different people. And all of us failed. That's the truth. All of us failed.

BLITZER: Because there's a letter that you apparently wrote that was published in "The Arkansas Times" to Wayne Dumond in which you said to him, "My desire is that you be released from prison. I feel that parole is the best way for your reintroduction to society to take place."

Did you write him such a letter?

HUCKABEE: I wrote it because that's when I denied him, and a parole meant that he had to have had supervision. Had I granted his commutation, there would have been no supervision at all. I wasn't comfortable with that.

He had an exemplary prison record, he had the recommendations, he had met all the criteria, and that's why I think all of us are very sad. But I did not commute his sentence. And his sentence was commuted several years before I became governor. That made him parole eligible. I not only denied his commutation once, actually three or four times when he presented it in the course of the time that I had the case during my tenure as governor.

BLITZER: There was an article written back in 2002 in "The Arkansas Times" that quoted three former parole members basically as saying that you influenced them in a significant way to let this guy go. One, Charles Chastain, writing, "He made it obvious that he thought Dumond had gotten a raw deal and wanted us to take another look at it."

Another, Ermer Pondexter, "I signed the (parole) papers because the governor wanted Dumond paroled."

And a third, Deborah Springer-Suttlar, "For Governor Huckabee to say that he had no influence with the board is something that he knows to be untrue. He came before the board and made his views known that (Dumond) should have been paroled."

Are they telling the truth?

HUCKABEE: Wolf, they are not. The reality is that I was invited to the board by the chairman, Leroy Brownlee (ph). He asked me to come as the new governor back in 1996.

I talked to them. The discussion came up, but it wasn't about Dumond. The overall discussion was about my general policy toward clemency.

Those are three people out of seven that waited six years before they ever came forward and said there was pressure. And every one of them had been appointed by either Bill Clinton or Jim Guy Tucker before me.

If as a brand-new Republican governor I was able to go in and convince a board, a board that every one of whom had been appointed by Democrat governors before me, I'm a pretty persuasive guy. And the other members of that board would give you a different story.

And interestingly, these people who make these allegations not only did so six years later, but did so after I did not reappoint them to $75,000-a-year jobs, to which they had been appointed by a previous Democratic governor.

BLITZER: So the charge you're making is they were politicizing, they were blaming you on political reasons, is that what you're saying?

HUCKABEE: And, Wolf, that's what is so heartbreaking about this. There are families who are truly, understandably and reasonably grief- stricken. And for people to now politicize these deaths and to try to make a political case out of it, rather than to simply understand that a system failed and that we ought to extend our grief and heartfelt sorrow to these families, I just regret that politics is reduced to that.

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