We speak with Lois Davidson. Her daughter Carol Sue Shields was murdered by Wayne Dumond in 2000 after he was released by Mike Huckabee. As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee aggressively pushed for the early release of Dumond, a convicted rapist, in 1999. Huckabee made the decision despite being warned by numerous women that Dumond had sexually assaulted them or their family members and would likely strike again. [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZALEZ: I want to turn to another controversy from Mike Huckabee’s past. Earlier this month, The Huffington Post revealed that as governor of Arkansas, he aggressively pushed for the early release of Wayne Dumond in 1999. Huckabee made the decision, despite being warned by numerous women that Dumond had sexually assaulted them or their family members and would likely strike again.
After Dumond was released, he went on to rape and murder at least one other woman. This short video about Dumond was recently posted online on a newly created website called huckabeefacts.com.
LOIS DAVIDSON: My name is Lois Davidson. My daughter won’t be home for Christmas this year.
NARRATOR: Carol Sue Shields won’t be home for Christmas, because she was brutally murdered by Wayne Dumond. Dumond was in an Arkansas prison for raping a seventeen-year-old high school cheerleader, until Governor Mike Huckabee helped him get out. Thanks to Mike Huckabee, Dumond was released from his Arkansas prison twenty-five years before his sentence was to end. Then, less than one year later, he raped and murdered Carol Sue Shields.
LOIS DAVIDSON: If not for Mike Huckabee, Wayne Dumond would have been in prison, and Carol Sue would have been with us this year for Christmas.
AMY GOODMAN: That online video was produced by a Republican operative in Arkansas who says he made the video independently of any of Huckabee’s opponents.
Lois Davidson joins us on the phone now from Missouri, her daughter Carol Sue Shields, murdered by Wayne Dumond after he was released by Governor Huckabee. We’re also joined by Nico Pitney, the national editor for HuffingtonPost.com. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!
Lois Davidson, this story about Mike Huckabee — the question of how involved was he with the release of Wayne Dumond, who then got out and murdered your daughter?
LOIS DAVIDSON: Well, he went to the school — or to the parole board, and he encouraged them to let him out. He thought that he had served enough time, which was only —- he only served, I think, twelve years. He was in the pen for life-plus-twenty-years. And to my understanding, he only served twelve years.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s put this in some context with Nico Pitney. You’re national editor of The Huffington Post. Murray Waas wrote an extensive piece called “Documents Expose Huckabee’s Role in Serial Rapist’s Release.” Can you give this the chronology of what happened here and also respond to the governor’s response to this story, this expose, saying he wasn’t the one; it was the Democrats on the parole board that actually released him; he didn’t weigh in with heavy pressure?
LOIS DAVIDSON: Well -—
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s put that to Nico Pitney.
NICO PITNEY: Thanks for having me, Amy. The chronology — Dumond was first imprisoned in the ’80s, given a life sentence plus twenty years. What Huckabee says about him being made parole-eligible by Jim Guy Tucker is true, but it’s basically irrelevant to the controversy of Dumond actually being released from prison. Under Bill Clinton, Dumond’s sentence was reduced from life-plus-twenty-years down to 39.5 years. It was under Huckabee in the 1990s, in 1996, that this parole board was pressured to actually release Dumond, and that’s when it took place.
Now, four members of the parole board have gone on record saying that Huckabee came in. The recording secretary was removed from the room so no transcription exists, which was virtually unprecedented. Huckabee told them that he favored this man’s release, and within a few months, the parole board, which had previously voted several times against releasing Dumond, then switched and voted in favor of releasing him.
Huckabee insists that he has no control over the parole board’s decision, and he doesn’t decide whether prisoners are paroled. But the power he does have is to appoint these members of the parole board, which obviously weighs massively over their minds, as he decides whether they keep a high-paying position in the state government. And so, clearly he had the potential to influence their minds.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Nico Pitney, the article by Murray Waas raises some startling information in terms of — we normally think of these campaigns to get leniency for people convicted of crimes as being pressure from civil libertarians or from liberals, but that this was a campaign developed around the country by very conservative groups, including Steve Dunleavy, the extreme conservative columnist of the New York Post, that were pressuring the Arkansas officials to free this man.
NICO PITNEY: That’s right. You read Dunleavy’s columns today, and they’re just vile, I mean, basically accusing this woman who was raped when she was seventeen years old by Dumond of making the whole thing up. He claims no rape happened. It’s really vile. His line was echoed in Arkansas by a fellow Baptist minister who had a major talk radio show there. He was a — this talk radio host was a friend of Huckabee’s, was pressing him to release Dumond.
The reason was — the reason Dumond was in prison, because he had raped a distant relative of Bill Clinton, and the perception among conservatives, who were ardently opposed to Clinton, was that he was — this man had been falsely imprisoned, had been — even if he was guilty, he had been punished too harshly. And so, they pressured Huckabee to release him and to, you know, reverse this perceived injustice at the hands of Bill Clinton.
AMY GOODMAN: Then the issue that you released for the first time in The Huffington Post in Murray Waas’s piece of the numerous letters that were sent to, well, Governor Huckabee at the time, pleading with him not to release Dumond. They were letters of women who had been raped or family members of those who had been. Can you talk about why these haven’t been seen, what they said, who were these women?
NICO PITNEY: That’s exactly right. Murray Waas has been reporting this from 2002. He was the one who first reported that Huckabee had pressured the parole board. What the public didn’t know until this past month was that while Huckabee was considering and pressing for this man’s release, he had privately been receiving letters from women who had also been raped or sexually assaulted by this man. So even if Huckabee had doubted whether this original crime for which the man was in prison hadn’t taken place, or was in doubt, there were these other women, the tragic stories that they told.
One described being raped by this man while her three-year-old daughter was in the bed. He held a butcher knife to her throat. Another woman described a very similar incident, him arriving in her room with a butcher knife only to discover that her boyfriend was also in the room, and he — and this man Wayne Dumond ran off.
But Huckabee had in his possession — he read these letters, in fact, and ended up meeting this woman who had been raped with her three-year-old. In person, he met her and still pushed forward, you know, still bowed to this rightwing campaign to release this man from prison. He ended up going on, of course, to rape and murder two other women.
AMY GOODMAN: Nico Pitney, the other issue — are the people that Murray Waas spoke to within the governor’s office, his aides who came out, who had these letters and talked about Governor Huckabee wanting to silence this issue, sequester the information, get letters from other agencies to ensure that under Arkansas’s liberal FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, request, reporters wouldn’t be able to get these letters from other agencies.
NICO PITNEY: Exactly. You know, these letters were provided to us by a member of Huckabee’s gubernatorial staff, who saw all this take place. And this person not only, of course, was alarmed that he had known of other women who had been raped by this man, but when Huckabee was running for governor in 2002, he feared that these documents would come out and made an effort to keep them secret, so he pulled all the — he tried to get copies, all the copies that other government agencies had of these letters and bring them into the governor’s office, where they couldn’t be requested by ordinary citizens seeking information about the case — basically tried to cover up the back — you know, the information he had known about this man before he was set free.
JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask Lois Davidson, when you hear about this information, especially in light of the comments that Governor Huckabee made in a debate on CNN when he was asked about this, and he said, “None of us could have predicted what Dumond could have done when he got out.” And, of course, he did get out, and he ended up murdering your daughter. Your reaction to the remarks of Governor Huckabee now about this?
LOIS DAVIDSON: Well, if you go back to Mr. Dumond’s back history, he should have known that there’s something else would happened, because Mr. Dumond has been in trouble ever since the early 1980s, and you just don’t change somebody like that.
AMY GOODMAN: Lois Davidson and Nico Pitney, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Lois Davidson lost her daughter, Carol Sue Shields, murdered and raped by Wayne Dumond, after he was released by Governor Huckabee. Nico Pitney, national editor of The Huffington Post. We’ll link to Murray Waas’s piece on our website at democracynow.org.