During his time as governor of Arkansas, Mr. Huckabee granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons. Police are now seeking Mr. Clemmons for questioning in the shooting death of four police officers in Washington State.
Clemmons's criminal history includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and another eight felony charges in Washington, according to the Seattle Times. He was released from police custody last week after posting bail for a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child.
This the second time Huckabee has been criticized for his role in releasing a criminal who later went on to offend again, and it echoes 1988, when the crimes of a furloughed convict undermined the presidential aspirations of Michael Dukakis.
“The murder of a police officer is the worst of all murders in that it is an assault on every citizen and the laws we live within,” Huckabee said in a statement on his PAC website late Sunday.
But he also pointed out that many departments share responsibility for Clemmons’s release.
“Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State,” the statement read.
Huckabee has also been criticized in regards to the release of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond.
Though he did not directly pardon Mr. Dumond, who was convicted of raping a 17-year-old relative of Bill Clinton, Huckabee is alleged to have played a role in influencing the prison board that decided to release Dumond in 1997. He denies the charge, which became a point of controversy during his first bid for the White House in 2008.
Dumond was later convicted of another murder, and sentenced to life in prison. He was also suspected of raping and murdering a pregnant woman just one day before his 2001 arrest, though he died in prison before he could be charged.
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis suffered from a similar connection during the 1988 presidential campaign. Willie Horton committed a rape and armed robbery while out of prison on a weekend furlough program Mr. Dukakis created. Presidential rival George H. W. Bush used the incidents to call Dukakis soft on crime.
Though early polling shows Huckabee is a favorite for the Republican nomination, he said Sunday that he has become “less likely” to run in 2012 because he enjoys his current post as a host on Fox News. News of his role in the Clemmons pardon could make a run for the presidency even more unappealing.
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