"It was a horrible situation, horrible, I feel awful about it in every way. I wish that there was some way I could go back and reverse the clock and put him back in prison. But nobody, not me, not Jim Guy Tucker, not Bill Clinton, not that parole board, could ever imagine what might have transpired," - Mike Huckabee, addressing the Wayne Dumond case at a press conference yesterday.
The full transcript can be read after the jump. Since this issue may well come into the forefront in the coming days, it's worth getting Huckabee's considered response. I found it candid.
Governor Huckabee was asked if he had pressured the parole board to release Dumond.
Governor Huckabee: No. I did not. Let me categorically say that I did not. And it’s really interesting, if people want to really look into that record. Here’s the chronology, and here’s the timeline. I’m going to try to do it as briefly as I can, because it’s been delved into repeatedly, normally during an election year.
In 1992, Bill Clinton was governor; Jim Guy Tucker was Lieutenant Governor. And during Bill Clinton’s governorship, while he was campaigning for president, Jim Guy Tucker signed the papers to commute the sentence of Wayne DuMond to parole eligibility. That’s what made him parole eligible in 1992. He had been convicted of rape in Forest City Arkansas, during time of awaiting trial, he was hogtied and castrated; his testicles were later placed in a jar on the desk of a sherriff.
It was a brutal, amazingly, just, complicated case. There were all kinds of questions about the case. Many stories were written; I am sure you can Google all the way back to the 1980s and get more information than you even want on the case. For reasons Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker would have to answer, not me, the sentence was commuted in 1992.
I was not elected to anything at that time; I was a candidate for the United States Senate. I was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1993; in 1996, Wayne DuMond had requested another commutation for time served because the parole board had not granted parole even though he was parole eligible.
Let me make it clear, governors in Arkansas cannot parole anybody. The parole process is separated from governor; the governor can commute a sentence to make it parole eligible. The actual parole is handled completely separate from the governor. Jim Guy Tucker had been convicted of Whitewater related felonies, he resigned. When I came into office in July, the file of Wayne DuMond was on my desk and was transferred to me having been sat there for several months prior to my coming of office.
That request for commutation to time served awaited me. I originally considered it, indicated even an intention I that might grant it. There was and incredible outcry over that, I ultimately requested to deny it. Primarily for the reason I believed there needed to be some supervision; I was not completely confident that it would be appropriate for him to get out without supervision. He had a unblemished prison record an exemplary record in terms of getting along as an inmate. He had met all the qualifications for being paroled, including having a job lined up, a sponsor with a church I think in Houston, TX, originally.
I chose ultimately not to pardon him. I made a visit to the parole board early in my tenure as a governor at the request of chairman, because you gotta remember, every member of that parole board had been appointed by Jim Guy Tucker or Bill Clinton. Not one of them appointed by me. I’m a new Republican governor, they’d never seen one. I think they had real concern on how to interrelate or how to relate to me. And what kind of attitude I had in general to crime, attitude, parole, etc. So at their invitation, I went to the meeting; someone brought up this case.
Frankly, it was simply part of a broader discussion; I did not ask them to do anything. I did indicate it was sitting at my desk; and I was giving thought to it. But this was probably in, I’m thinking maybe September or October when that meeting was held; I can’t remember exactly. The parole board, the following year, early 97 approved his parole plan after I had denied the further commutation.
Subsequent to that, he…I can’t remember exactly the timing, he left there, went to MO, unfortunately was later convicted for the murder of one woman and awaiting trial for the murder of another when he died in prison.
It was a horrible situation, horrible, I feel awful about it in every way. I wish that there was some way I could go back and reverse the clock and put him back in prison. But nobody, not me, not Jim Guy Tucker, not Bill Clinton, not that parole board, could ever imagine what might have transpired.
For people to say that I was responsible in getting him out makes a few presumptions number one, it presumes, I had an influence on Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker in 1992. The second presumption, it assumes I had the amazing persuasive power to go into a board of seven people, all of them appointed by Democratic governors before me and persuade them to do something they didn’t wish to do.
It also assumes that, not only did I have that power, but that only two of them changed story about what happened and they didn’t do so until 6 years later when we were in the middle of an election year. And after, and subsequent to the fact that I had not reappointed them to their $75,000 jobs on the parole board.
Now if you can follow that line and believe that I am solely responsible, then you’ll believe that. But you’ll believe a lot of other things as well. I am deeply sorry, and I mean, awfully, just horrified of what happened to (inaudible). And there is not a single person that will ever bring those women back to their families. But that’s the story, that’s what happened.
And yes it will come up in the presidential campaign. It came up in my governor’s campaign. There will be people who are victims who will probably be brought forth to make statements but, you know, I can’t fix it. I can only tell the truth and let the truth be my judge.