Dean of All Beltway Journalists David Broder suggests today that Arkansas's GOP governor, Mike Huckabee, might be president of the United States someday soon; his column is titled "The Next 'Man From Hope'?"
Good Lord. If Huckabee really does run and win, then it's incontrovertible: There's one set of political rules for Democrats and another for Republicans. Huckabee, you see, has his own Willie Horton: Wayne DuMond, a convicted rapist with a previous criminal record whom Huckabee helped win parole for questionable -- possibly political -- reasons, and who then went on to commit murder.
This thorough Kansas City Star story from 2001 (UPDATE: try this link instead) gives the facts about DuMond: He was sentenced to life plus twenty years in prison after being convicted of raping 17-year-old Ashley Stevens in Forrest City, Arkansas, in 1984. Before the trial began, in 1985, two men broke into his house and castrated him. A vicious act of vigilantism, yes -- but don't feel too sorry for DuMond:
He had been charged with a 1972 murder in Lawton, Okla., where he was stationed at Fort Sill while in the U.S. Army. The charges were dropped after he agreed to testify against two others, who were found guilty.
He had served five years' probation in Washington for attacking a woman in a parking lot in 1973.
He had been arrested in 1976 after the alleged rape of a woman in DeWitt, Ark., but he never was charged. The woman, who had a young child, refused to press charges, according to Arkansas authorities.
DuMond drove Stevens in her Ford Granada to a secluded area about a mile from her home. There he raped and sodomized her.
"He said he would kill me," Stevens said. "I begged for my life." ...
With Stevens testifying, the trial went smoothly for prosecutors.
"I've never had a stronger case against anybody," [prosecutor Fletcher] Long said. "The evidence pointed only in one direction."
William McArthur, a defense attorney for DuMond, said that before the trial, "I concluded in my own mind there was no way the state could lose that case."
Ah, but the governor at the time was Bill Clinton, a distant cousin of the victim. Once Clinton was president, the campaign to discredit every aspect of his life included a campaign to discredit this conviction. A leader of the campaign was New York Post sleazemonger Steve Dunleavy, who wrote about the case. He became DuMond's Zola.
As Murray Waas reported in the Arkansas Times in 2002,
...Huckabee has shifted responsibility for Dumond's release to others...
But the Times' new reporting shows the extent to which Huckabee and a key aide were involved in the process to win Dumond's release. It was a process marked by deviation from accepted parole practice and direct personal lobbying by the governor, in an apparently illegal and unrecorded closed-door meeting with the parole board (the informal name by which the Post Prison Transfer Board is known)....
"I don't believe that he had access to, or read, the law enforcement records or parole commission's files - even by then," [a state] official said. "He already seemed to have made up his mind, and his knowledge of the case appeared to be limited to a large degree as to what people had told him, what Jay Cole had told him, and what he had read in the New York Post."
Jay Cole, like Huckabee, is a Baptist minister, pastor for the Mission Fellowship Bible Church in Fayetteville and a close friend of the governor and his wife. On the ultra-conservative radio program he hosts, Cole has championed the cause of Wayne Dumond for more than a decade.
Cole has repeatedly claimed that Dumond's various travails are the result of Ashley Stevens' distant relationship to Bill Clinton.
The governor was also apparently relying on information he got from Steve Dunleavy, first as a correspondent for the tabloid television show "A Current Affair" and later as a columnist for the New York Post.
Much of what Dunleavy has written about the Dumond saga has been either unverified or is demonstrably untrue. Dunleavy has all but accused Ashley Stevens of having fabricated her rape, derisively referring to her in one column as a "so-called victim," and brusquely asserting in another, "That rape never happened."
The columnist wrote that Dumond was a "Vietnam veteran with no record" when in fact he did have a criminal record. He claimed there existed DNA evidence by "one of the most respected DNA experts in the country" to exonerate Dumond, even though there was no such evidence. He wrote that Bill Clinton had personally intervened to keep Dumond in prison, even though Clinton had recused himself in 1990 from any involvement in the case because of his distant relationship with Stevens.
DuMond left prison in 1999. On September 20, 2000, he murdered Carol Sue Shields and left her body bound and nude on a bed. A DNA match to DuMond was made from material found under Shields's fingernails.