Daily Revolt

November 28, 2007

Huckabee Tries to Gloss over Arkansas Record

Now that his poll numbers are rising, Mr.Huckabee is getting scrutiny:
Mike Huckabee's presidential rivals are pointing to chinks in his record as Arkansas' governor — from ethics complaints to tax increases to illegal immigration and his support for releasing a rapist who was later convicted of killing a Missouri woman.

The Republican presidential candidate has plenty to champion from his 10 1/2 years as governor — including school improvements and health insurance for the children of the working poor. But his record has rough edges, and Huckabee has a habit of playing fast and loose with it.

[...]_Huckabee has consistently understated his role in the parole of rapist Wayne DuMond, who had been convicted in the 1984 rape of a distant cousin of former President Clinton.

Two months after taking office, Huckabee stunned the state by saying he questioned DuMond's guilt and that it was his intention to free the rapist, who had been castrated by masked men while awaiting trial. Huckabee said then he had "serious questions as to the legitimacy of his guilt" and acknowledged later that he had met with DuMond's wife about the case while he was lieutenant governor. Two months after ascending to the governor's office, Huckabee met with the woman again.

The ex-governor now blames his predecessor for making DuMond parole eligible — Jim Guy Tucker commuted a life-plus-20 years sentence to 39 1/2 years — but distances himself from his role in DuMond's release. Huckabee met privately with the state parole board, and two members have said he pressured them for a vote.

"He made it obvious that he thought DuMond had gotten a raw deal and wanted us to take another look at it," former board member Charles Chastain said in 2001. "Some board members who were usually very tough about letting people out ... (later) voted in favor of him, and seemed eager to."

On his campaign Web site, Huckabee says the parole board was made up entirely of Democrats appointed by Clinton and Tucker. It doesn't mention that Huckabee reappointed board member Railey Steele days before he voted with three other members to set DuMond free. DuMond was later convicted of killing a woman in Missouri and died in 2005.

_Huckabee likes to say he was tough on taxes in Arkansas, noting a $100 million tax cut in 1997 that until this year was Arkansas' largest. When asked about a fuel tax increase he backed in 1999, Huckabee says incorrectly that he joined 80 percent of Arkansas voters in approving it.

Huckabee in 1999 supported a $1 billion highway bond program, including costs for interest and lawyers' fees, but the question on the ballot was only whether the state could take on the debt, not how Arkansas would pay for it. Huckabee had signed the fuel tax increase two months earlier.

[...]_Huckabee's recent strong stand on immigration, including an intolerance toward companies that employ illegal immigrants, runs counter to the image he crafted in his final years in office. He was battling conservatives within his own party who were pushing for stricter state-level immigration measures.

Huckabee opposed a Republican lawmaker's efforts in 2005 to require proof of legal status when applying for state services that aren't federally mandated and proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Huckabee derided the bill as un-American and un-Christian and said the bill's sponsor drank a different "Jesus juice."

That same year, Huckabee failed in his effort to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for state-funded scholarships and in-state tuition to Arkansas colleges. At the time, Huckabee said he didn't understand the opposition to it.

"It hurts me on a personal as well as a policy level to think that we are still debating issues that I kind of hoped we had put aside in the 1960s, maybe at the latest the '70s, and yet I understand people have deep passions about things usually they don't fully understand," Huckabee said.

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