The EFM Feature

Now that Gov. Huckabee is enjoying a boomlet, it’s his turn under the microscope. Tomorrow morning, Good Morning America is doing a segment on Huckabee’s decision to let a convicted rapist to go free:

A Missouri mother says she will do “whatever it takes” to stop former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee from becoming president, because he freed the man who went on to rape and murder her daughter, Carol Sue Shields.
“I can’t imagine anybody wanting somebody like that running the country,” Lois Davidson of Adrian, Mo., told the Blotter on
Wayne Dumond was initially sentenced to life plus 25 years for raping a 17-year-old Arkansas high school cheerleader. In 1999, a parole board voted to free Dumond, after then-Gov. Mike Huckabee announced his desire to see him released.

No matter how much Huckmentum there is, none of us relish seeing headlines like this:

Mom: ‘Carol Sue Would Be Alive Today’ If Not for Huckabee

Huckabee has claimed he had little role in freeing Dumond, Murray Waas’ 2002 prize-winning article for the Arkansas Times details the extraordinary steps Huckabee took for Dumond’s freedom. (Mr. Waas is an investigative reporter who won the Goldsmith Prize and was a 1993 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.) For starters:

It was a process marked by deviation from accepted parole practice and direct personal lobbying by the governor, in an apparently illegal and unrecorded closed-door meeting with the parole board…

Was Huckabee manipulated because of Dumond’s supposed conversion to Christianity while in prison? He suspected Dumond had gotten a “raw deal,” a sentiment shared by Dumond’s new wife, a churchgoer who visited Dumond in jail. According to the article, he also thought Dumond was “from the wrong side of the tracks” and was punished too excessively for the rape of the high school cheerleader.
Waas also claims Gov. Huckabee had a large role in his release:

…just prior to Huckabee’s appearance before the board the board had voted 4-1 against Dumond’s parole. After Huckabee’s board appearance, her colleagues largely reversed themselves, voting 4-1 for Dumond’s release.

Huckabee had only been on the job for a few months, when he set off a political firestorm by announcing he’d commute Dumond’s sentence. To stem the public outcry, he met with the family of Dumond’s victim and Fletcher Long, the prosecuting attorney who’d sent Dumond to prison… for the first time.

“He [Huckabee] kept insisting that there was DNA evidence that has since exonerated Dumond, when that very much wasn’t the case,” recalled Long. “No matter that that wasn’t true … we couldn’t seem to say or do anything to disabuse him of that notion.”
In fact, there had never been any DNA testing in the Ashley Stevens case.
The state official who advised Huckabee on the Dumond case confirmed that the governor knew very little about Ashley Stevens’ case:
“I don’t believe that he had access to, or read, the law enforcement records or parole commission’s files — even by then,” the official said. “He already seemed to have made up his mind, and his knowledge of the case appeared to be limited to a large degree as to what people had told him, what Jay Cole had told him, and what he had read in the New York Post.”

The meeting went so badly that it energized the family to tell their story.

Ashley Stevens says she told the governor: “This is how close I was to Wayne Dumond. I will never forget his face. And now I don’t want you ever to forget my face.”

But, he’d made his decision. He’s categorically denied supporting parole behind closed doors, but four board members say he did. The closed door, off the record meeting itself was a violation of the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
The article goes on and on, and is worth a read if you saw the Good Morning America segment and wanted to read the journalism surrounding the case at the time. It paints Gov. Huckabee as a gullible person who believed demonstrably untrue things about the case and had no qualms of breaking the law to do what he felt was right.
What a tragedy. I wish he had been right.

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