Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Tale of Two Michaels.

Remember Michael Dukakis? He was a 1988 Democratic presidential candidate. His campaign was pretty much over when the opposition published an ad about how the prison furlough program Dukakis supported allowed a convicted criminal, Willie Horton, to go out and rape another woman.

Now compare and contrast this with the case of Michael Huckabee. When he was the governor of Arkansas he helped to secure the early release of Wayne Dumond, a rapist. Dumond then went on to rape and kill at least one woman, most probably two. Perhaps nobody could have anticipated that Dumond would do such a thing?

Well, judge for yourselves. First the story:

In 1996, as a newly elected governor who had received strong support from the Christian right, Huckabee was under intense pressure from conservative activists to pardon Dumond or commute his sentence. The activists claimed that Dumond's initial imprisonment and various other travails were due to the fact that Ashley Stevens, the high school cheerleader he had raped, was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton, and the daughter of a major Clinton campaign contributor.

The case for Dumond's innocence was championed in Arkansas by Jay Cole, a Baptist minister and radio host who was a close friend of the Huckabee family. It also became a cause for New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy, who repeatedly argued for Dumond's release, calling his conviction "a travesty of justice." On Sept. 21, 1999, Dunleavy wrote a column headlined "Clinton's Biggest Crime - Left Innocent Man In Jail For 14 Years":

"Dumond, now 52, was given conditional parole yesterday in Arkansas after having being sentenced to 50 years in jail for the rape of Clinton's cousin," Dunleavy wrote. "That rape never happened."

A subsequent Dunleavy column quoted Huckabee saying: "There is grave doubt to the circumstances of this reported crime."

After Dumond's release from prison in September 1999, he moved to Smithville, Missouri, where he raped and suffocated to death a 39-year-old woman named Carol Sue Shields. Dumond was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for that rape and murder.

But Dumond's arrest for those crimes in June 2001 came too late for 23-year-old Sara Andrasek of Platte County, Missouri. Dumond allegedly raped and murdered her just one day before his arrest for raping and murdering Shields. Prior to the attack, Andrasek and her husband had learned that she was pregnant with their first child.

Dumond died of natural causes while in prison on September 1, 2005. At the time of his death, Missouri authorities were readying capital murder charges against Dumond for the rape and murder of Andrasek.

Then the evidence that Huckabee was told about how dangerous Dumond was for women:

While on the campaign trail, Huckabee has claimed that he supported the 1999 release of Wayne Dumond because, at the time, he had no good reason to believe that the man represented a further threat to the public. Thanks to Huckabee's intervention, conducted in concert with a right-wing tabloid campaign on Dumond's behalf, Dumond was let out of prison 25 years before his sentence would have ended.

"There's nothing any of us could ever do," Huckabee said Sunday on CNN when asked to reflect on the horrific outcome caused by the prisoner's release. "None of us could've predicted what [Dumond] could've done when he got out."

But the confidential files obtained by the Huffington Post show that Huckabee was provided letters from several women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond and who indeed predicted that he would rape again - and perhaps murder - if released.

In a letter that has never before been made public, one of Dumond's victims warned: "I feel that if he is released it is only a matter of time before he commits another crime and fear that he will not leave a witness to testify against him the next time." Before Dumond was granted parole at Huckabee's urging, records show that Huckabee's office received a copy of this letter from Arkansas' parole board.

It is hard for me to believe that a rapist would have been allowed to go free to kill women just because one of his victims was related to Bill Clinton. But whatever the reason for Dumond's premature release, the safety of women was apparently not of any great importance in the calculations.

This matters greatly when judging Mike Huckabee as a candidate right now.