Newsmax just can't figure out where it stands on Mike Huckabee's use of clemency while governor of Arkansas.
As we detailed, Newsmax ran to Huckabee's defense in 2002 regarding his efforts to give clemency to Wayne Dumond, who was later arrested and convicted of murder. But in 2007, Newsmax citedthe Dumond case in discussing Huckabee's "liberal policy of criminal pardons." Then, a week later, Newsmax published an fawning article about Huckabee that failed to address the question of Huckabee's clemency record in general or Dumond in particular.
Now, the question arises again with the case of Maurice Clemmons, who earlier this week shot and killed four police officers in Washington state. Clemmons was granted clemency by Huckabee in 2000.
Newsmax's response to the Clemmons case is to provide a forum for Huckabee to spin the story. And spin he does in a Nov. 30 column, claiming to "take full responsibility for my actions of nine years ago" yet blaming the Arkansas Post Prison Transfer Board for actually setting the guy free.
Huckabee also misleads by claiming that Clemmons "was 16 years old when he was charged with burglary and robbery. He was sentenced to a total of 108 years based on the way in which the sentences were stacked." But it wasn't a first-time case for a youthful offender, as Huckabee seems to suggest; the sentence total is the result of five separate sentencings in 1989 and 1990, not just for "burglary and robbery" but also aggravated robbery, theft of property, probation revocation and firearms possession.
Huckabee is also disingenous about other efforts to keep Clemmons in prison: "When he violated terms of his parole by participating in additional crimes, he was returned to prison and should have stayed there. For reasons only the prosecutor can explain, charges were not brought forth in a timely way and the prosecutor ended up dropping the charges, allowing him to leave prison and return to supervised parole."
In fact, the prosecutor in question, Larry Jegley, said the charges were dropped because the warrant wasn't served in a timely manner and because there was trouble locating witnesses to the 2001 robbery. Further, Jegley's office opposed Clemmons' parole in 2000 and 2004, adding that Huckabee created a flaw in the Arkansas justice system by freeing the number of prisoners he did. "My word to Mr. Huckabee is man up and own what you did," Jegley said.
A Dec. 1 follow-up Newsmax article by David Patten starts off by continuing to be kind to Huckabee, giving him the opportunity to address "the many incorrect reports and rumors swirling around his decision to reduce Clemmons' sentence."
But then, later in the article, Patten references not only Dumond but also states that "Huckabee's critics have compared the incident to the controversial Willie Horton furlough that derailed the 1988 candidacy of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee." Patten does try to spin that away, however, claiming that "Political historians say, however, that what actually torpedoed Dukakis wasn't the clemency issue, but rather his dispassionate response during a debate to a hypothetical question about whether he would favor capital punishment if his wife were raped."