Most Revealing Fibs: Mike Huckabee
"[Wayne Dumond's] parole eligibility happened in 1992 during the time when Bill Clinton was still governor [of Arkansas.] Rather than me having an issue with that, if Hillary is the nominee, [the Dumond parole] will be as much an issue for her and for her husband as it ever will be for me."
--Mike Huckabee, Hannity & Colmes Show, Fox TV, Nov. 15, 2007.
The Clintons can no doubt be blamed for a lot of things that happened in Arkansas, but it is a huge stretch to blame them for the 1999 release of Wayne Dumond. A convicted rapist and alleged murderer, Wayne Dumond went on to rape and murder another woman in Missouri after he was freed from prison in Arkansas. While the decision to free him was taken by the parole board, Huckabee strongly supported it. The case has come back to haunt his suddenly strong presidential bid.
First let's look at Bill Clinton's role in the case, and then examine Huckabee's role. (Hillary Clinton played no role at all, except by association with her husband.)
The Dumond case became a cause celebre among some evangelical Christians in Arkansas after Dumond claimed to have undergone a religious conversion. Dumond's supporters argued that he was not being treated fairly because one of his alleged victims was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton. They accused Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, of preventing Dumond's release from prison in defiance of the wishes of his own parole board.
In September 1990, Clinton overrode a 5-1 vote of the recommendation of the parole board to commute Dumond's sentence of life in prison plus 20 years to time already served, arguing that the issue should be left to an appeals court. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Sept. 26, 1990.)
Two years later, when was running for president, the issue came up again. On this occasion, Clinton recused himself and handed responsibility for a decision to his lieutenant governor, Jim Guy Tucker. Tucker reduced Dumond's sentence to 39 1/2 years, making him eligible for parole in 1995, after serving 10 years. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Clinton's office "issued a statement saying that Clinton agreed with Tucker's decision."
Dumond had still not been freed in 1996, when Tucker was convicted of fraud and was succeeded by Huckabee, then lieutenant-governor. Dumond's wife, Mary Lou, told a reporter that Huckabee had assured her that her husband would soon be a "free man." "He is not one of the Clinton crowd," she explained. "He is a very fair man."
Huckabee announced his intention to commute Dumond's sentence to time served on September 20, 1996, two months after taking over as governor. But there was such an outcry from the families of Dumond's victims that he revised his decision. Instead of pardoning Dumond outright, he would support his release on parole. In a "Dear Wayne" letter to Dumond denying him his pardon application, he wrote: "My desire is that you be released from prison. I feel now that parole is the best way for your reintegration into society."
The parole board held a new hearing on January 16, 1997. Several parole board members now say that they felt "pressured" by the governor to parole Dumond, a charge that Huckabee denies. In any event, Huckabee issued a statement supporting the parole board's decision. He also expressed "grave doubt to the circumstances of this reported crime."
It seems clear enough from this chronology that responsibility for Dumond's early release from prison must be shared among many people, and particularly the Arkansas parole board, which voted to release him. But Huckabee's claim that the Dumond affair is "as much a problem" for the Clintons as it is for him is a distortion of the historical record.
A couple of other occasions where Huckabee has been factually challenged, connected in some way to his strong religious convictions:
The Pinocchio Test
It is still too early to rank the candidates in terms of their overall truthfulness. I am giving the candidates a pass this week from Pinocchios, but I would be interested in your views on Huckabee and the Dumond case.
| December 15, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Candidate Record, Candidate Watch, Social Issues
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