by Max Brantley
Long ago, we decided the evidence was overwhelming. For whatever reason, Mike Huckabee decided to do whatever he could to free serial rapist/killer Wayne Dumond from prison. Legitimate belief that he was innocent/rehabilitated? Illegitimate belief that he was a Clinton conspiracy victim, etc.?
Now that Mike Huckabee is a leading presidential candidate, people with consciences have decided to speak up. Not just wackjob liberal columnists like me. But also conservative, Republican, Huckabee-friendly former Huckabee administration aides:
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made a rare personal appeal to release a convicted rapist from prison, a former top aide to the GOP presidential hopeful confirmed to ABC News.
Butch Reeves, formerly the criminal justice counsel to the Arkansas governor's office, handled all requests for clemencies and communications with prisoners.
His account of a key 1996 meeting between then-Gov. Huckabee and the state parole board largely supports an earlier version of the meeting by former board member Charles Chastain. It contrasts with Huckabee's position that he did not pressure the board."At their invitation, I went to their meeting. Someone brought up his case," Huckabee said Tuesday, describing his meeting with the board. "Frankly it was simply part of a broader discussion. I did not ask them to do anything."
In a phone interview, Reeves said Huckabee told the board members he thought there was "something nefarious" about the criminal justice system in Dumond's case, and that the rapist got a "raw deal." Huckabee said he believed Dumond's sentence, originally a life sentence plus 20 years, was "way out of bounds" for his crime, raping a 17-year-old high school student.
Reeves said he could recall only a few such appeals being made by a governor.
OK. Can we now get past the Huckabee lies? He pushed for Dumond's release. With help from Parole Board members -- Railey Steele and Leroy Brownlee, members he appointed and who needed the jobs -- he got them to release Dumond. Dumond killed again. Twice. Huckabee thought Dumond was OK. He was wrong. He won't admit it. He blames Dumond's subsequent Missouri rape/kiling spree on others -- Bill Clinton. Jim Guy Tucker, the Arkansas Times, the Parole Board, anybody but Mike Huckabee. He's a coward. He'll never admit a mistake. Should he have the nuclear football? You tell me. And don't believe me. Ask his aides.
Or, read Murray Waas. Looks like Butch Reeves may have been the Waas source.
PS -- This is powerful stuff. People who were Huckabee's people essentially say 1) he's a liar; 2) he knew Dumond was a multiple offender 3) he worked for Dumond's freedom anyway.
The video clip is a powerful ABC clip, now further enhanced by Reeves' account. Huckabee's bad day -- Dumond and Iran -- are all over the big papers. For example here. And also here. But Huckabee is also profiled on his religious views in a broad and positive article in NY Times. And the Wash. Post's Chris Cillizza continues to love him some Huckster, liar though he is.