December 9, 2007

Huckabee is finished in my book

The Wayne Dumond Rape Case - 2o second summary

Dumond was convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl in 1984 and was sentenced to life in prison. This was in Arkansas while Bill Clinton was governor. After Clinton was elected president, Dumond became a cause celebre conservative activists because the rape victim was Clinton’s second cousin once removed, and the charge was that Dumond was the innocent victim of a frameup by a vengeful Clinton. In 1996, after being elected, Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee announced that he thought Dumond should be set free. Subsequently, he met with the parole board and a few weeks after that Dumond was paroled.Two years later Dumond was released from prison, and within weeks he sexually assaulted and murdered a 39-year-old woman in Kansas City. Huckabee was horrified, but said there was simply no way he could have known Dumond was dangerous.

A reprinted, detailed account in the Arkansas Times of Gov. Mike Huckabee's role in freeing rapist Wayne Dumond to rape and murder again pretty much knocks him out of contention for my vote. A review of the circumstances around the case makes it pretty clear that far from being a situation where a judgment call honestly made went bad, the Dumond case is one where Huckabee ignored and willfully overlooked facts readily available to him. He didn't just make a bad call. He was presented with ample information that at a minimum should have made him decide not to intervene with the state parole board. So his judgment is extremely suspect based on his active involvement in influencing the case.

Also disturbing is the political context of the case, because Ashley Stevens, Dumond's rape victim, was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton, governor of Arkansas at the time of the rape. Conservative activists in Arkansas, politically opposed to Clinton, derided the rape as having never happened and proclaimed Dumond to be an innocent man railroaded unfairly by then governor Bill Clinton. These activists championed Dumond's cause for years. Huckabee appears to have been strongly influenced by these activists and to have been either unwilling or unable to independently evaluate the readily available facts of the case and reach a reasoned decision.

Huckabee claims he exerted no influence over the parole board, but he met with the parole board in closed executive session to express his view that Dumond should be freed. Parole board members also indicate that there was a lot of influence being exerted behind the scenes as well. In Dumond's previous parole board outings, he was denied parole 4-1. After Huckabee met with the parole board, they voted to free him, 4-1.

So you have two really disturbing things going on here that really rule him out for me. One, this guy makes a really bad call based on information and opinions he had ample reason to question in the case of a convicted rapist no less. He ignored that evidence and pushed for this guy to be released against the advice of plenty of credible people in part out of partisan influenced disregard for the facts in a rape case. Thats just unconscionable.

Two, he's lying about it now. He claims he didn't have anything to do with the parole board's decision, but he is contradicted by three of the seven board members. Members of his staff also contradict him and documents obtained by the Huffington Post. He claims that he received no letters from victims regarding Dumond's release, but later released letters from victims.

In short, he is trying to spin it now, but its clear that he ignored the facts for ideological reasons in the case of a convicted rapist, casting aside even the impassioned plea of a victim not to release this man. Thats a bridge too far in my book and as the facts become more widely known, I suspect others will feel the same. His Iowa momentum notwithstanding, Huckabee is finished.