Gov. Mike Huckabee's recent pardon of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards' 1975 driving infraction prompted San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders to consider Huckabee's general attitude toward pardons and commutations.
Maybe this is a case where an attempt for some easy free publicity generated the wrong kind?
P.S.: The column notes that Huckabee visited the newspaper's offices while he was in San Francisco on Friday.
I left that meeting planning to write a gushing French kiss of a column, but when I researched the issue, I found that the less you know about his record, the better Huckabee sounds.
Let me be clear. Huckabee is a brave and good politician when he commutes sentences for nonviolent offenders and pardons for ex-cons who have turned their lives around. It is possible he was a paragon of virtue when he shortened the prison terms of some violent offenders.
Too bad Huckabee has commuted sentences for violent offenders -- without appearing to have done his homework. In 2004, Huckabee commuted the sentence of convicted murderer Denver Witham -- after Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld revealed that Witham had omitted some of his convictions on his clemency application. (Also, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported, the former Saline County sheriff testified that he had been threatened on Witham's behalf.) No governor should pardon a murderer so unrepentant that he lies on his clemency application.
Herzfeld cited other questionable commutations -- the three-time drunk driver who served nine months of a six-year sentence, won a Huckabee commutation, then parole, and then his fourth drunken-driving conviction. Huckabee advocated the release of a convicted rapist who was then paroled, and later found guilty of murdering a Missouri woman.