December 2nd, 2009
02:32 PM ET
3 months ago

HuckPAC coordinator steps down, citing clemency decision

Huckabee granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons in 2000, when he served as governor of Arkansas.
Huckabee granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons in 2000, when he served as governor of Arkansas.

(CNN) – The Arkansas coordinator for Mike Huckabee's political action committee resigned Tuesday, citing the former Arkansas governor's decision nine years ago to grant clemency to Maurice Clemmons, the man suspected of murdering four police officers in Washington state.

Jason Tolbert, who runs a conservative blog, served as Arkansas state coordinator for HuckPAC in a volunteer capacity.

"My departure was with a heavy heart but was done after serious prayer and consideration," Tolbert wrote on his Web site. "Some have asked about the timing. As most could imagine, the recent news of the last two days along with the response did play a role in this decision but was not the sole factor."

Huckabee said Tuesday he takes "full responsibility" for the clemency decision.

"I acted on the facts presented to me in 2000, the former GOP presidential hopeful said in a statement. "If I could have possibly known what Clemmons would do nine years later, I obviously would have made a different decision. But if the same file was presented to me today, I would have likely made the same decision."


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soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. JJ Jones

    I really don't think Huckabee's actions were out of the ordinary but I do think this will prevent him from having a chance in 2012.

    Bye bye nom. At least you still have your bass and your wife (who looks alot like Huck but I digress).

    December 2, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Mary in Georgia

    I don't like Huckabee for his policies, but this can't be blamed on him at all, and it's bad form for CNN.

    If there is anyone to blame, it's the police that didn't serve him a warrant when he was arrested in 2003 (letting him get off).

    December 2, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. Rickey Lawrence

    In fairness to Huckabee he made what he thought was the correct decision at the time. None of us can predict what someone may do in the future so maybe some these self righteous republicans should think about that before lambalsting a demcocrat when they do this.

    December 2, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Mark in Boston

    People are trying to equate Willie Horton (Dukakis) with Maurice Clemmons (Huckabee) and there is just no comparison. Dukakis went AGAINST the advice of the Parole Board and granted a RECENTLY convicted violent rapist, his release. I feel badly for the families of the officers that were killed; it was terrible and I'm glad the shooter was caught. It's too bad that he died in a shootout with police, but that was his choice. However, Huckabee was faced with a RECOMMENDATION from his Parole Board and at the time, a non-violent prisoner. It was NINE years ago. Who knows what someone might do 9 years from now? Can you guarantee that every decision you make today will be justified almost a decade from now?

    December 2, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. give me a break

    I am not a Huckabee fan at all. But I will say he handled it better than I would have expected (no denial and no blame).

    As for Tolbert – give me a break. You sound like a typical judgmental Christian. We make mistake and Huckabee showed a lot of accountability. Hey Tolbert, watch those "Christan morals", they tend to forget that people are human and we are doing the best we can.

    December 2, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Bob

    I am not a fan of Huckabee, but I do not think it is reasonable to attack a public official based on a parole decision made years ago in good faith. Whether done by Republicans and Democrats, such attacks are made only for partisan advantage, and they debase our political system. It was disgraceful when it was done to Dukakis, and it is just as disgraceful to have it done to Huckabee.There are lots of reasons to criticise Huckabee, but this isn't one of them.

    December 2, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. hampster

    Huckabee's political life is at an end. Think back people; remember that democrate Mike Dukakis and the revolving prison door. Yup that one act of awarding a pardon has doomed Huckabee. Without much thought or experience anyone could think of a dozen campaign commercials of Huckabee releasing/pardoning killers from jail and dead policemen laying about the commercials.

    December 2, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Duke

    I'm a democrat but I had the honor of meeting Mike Huckabee. I found him to be a very honest genuine person and I have no doubt that he feels terrible about what had happened to those four officers. It's easy for us to criticize decisions of our elected officials but Mr. Huckabee was in the trenches. He couldn't have known that someone he released based on credible evidence would turn out to be a goon 9 years later. No one could have known that. I applaud his honesty.

    December 2, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. Tommy

    If Huckabee was a democrat, we'd be hearing 24 hours of political opponents calling for his resignation. But since he is a republican, they do what all republicans in this situation do: blame something or someone else, while out of the other side of their mouths they're saying the buck stops with them.

    The republican party is dead. And we have the likes of conservative hacks like Huckabee, Beck, and Limbaugh to thank for that.

    December 2, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. Kevin

    @Marie MD

    Your grammar and spelling are atrocious. Apparently you do not believe people should be given second chances, as the governor does. The file that he was given led him to believe that a 17 year old kid deserved a second chance to contribute to society rather than have his life thrown away. People make mistakes and there are consequences for those mistakes. Governor Huckabee took responsibility for his mistakes and expressed his regret. Perhaps you should do the same and apologize to all of your teachers for making them look ineffective and unqualified with your horrific excuse for a paragraph.

    December 2, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. C Street is a Cult

    Looks like Huckies political career is over . . . awww. How's if feel to have karma bite you in the butt, Huckie????

    December 2, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Paul

    This is a good example of why it's good to look at a Governor as a POTUS candidate. You'll see actual decsions that were made in the process of governing, not just votes on legislation and speaches.
    While I am a Huck fan, I'm truly concerned about this. It dosen't bode well for him.

    December 2, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. Joe

    Two points: 1. If it had been a Democrat that had granted the commutation of sentence to Clemmons, the Becks, Limbaughs and Hannitys would have been having a field day ripping the decision. Instead, Hannity has Huckabee on the radio justifying the decision. Total double standard!
    2. I am inclined to agree with the rationale of the decision Huckabee made back in 2001. The 60-(or 95) year sentence seems to be ridiculously disproportionate for the crimes, and appears appropriate to commute. Our legal system provides for such pardons and commutations for a reason, and I accept Huckabee's explanation for doing what he did, to avoid what sure looked like a miscarriage of justice. Monday morning quarterbacks never have had much credibility.

    December 2, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Jackie in Dallas

    I've got to give credit where credit is due, even though I do it reluctantly. I give Huckabee credit for admitting he made a mistake in commuting part of Clemmons sentence. Hindsight is always 20/20, so it is easy to say he should have known better, NOW. But he wasn't in that decision alone - the parole board recommended it also.

    However, it was just a part of the continuing string of failures that allowed Clemmons the opportunity to continue to be a felon, and ended with the death of four peace officers. There were a lot of people whose bad judgement in the Clemmons case led to this sad circumstance. Noone is squeaky clean in this circumstance.

    What is amazing is the bailing of his aide. What is with this?

    December 2, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. Hendrik

    The issue, as I see it, has nothing to do with Huckabee's pardon. It has everything to do with the right wing's handling of the Willie Horton thing. Why was it wonderful for the GOP to attack Dukakis (sp) for something he did not control either. Where are the attacks on your "Christian" son, Mike? None because EVERY Republican is a fraud.

    December 2, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  16. morgan thomas

    Hey steve You are wrong. There are laws on the books,sentences for crimes, death penalties, etc. They should be followed right to the letter. No, we can't do that because you get some bottom feeding lawyer making deals, or whining that it is "against his clients rights". Bull puckey. Huckabee or any other judge should have never let that guy out of jail. You people whine about over crowding; put all the lawyers and judges in jail.Then you'll see overcrowding.

    December 2, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  17. CHANGE.COM

    I am no Huckabbee fan but please, get real: the governor followed the recommendation of the parole board. Fact is, the parole board could have nixed it right there. That is where the ball was dropped. Leave the Huck alone!

    December 2, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. Tom in FL

    You know, compassion and forgiveness are supposed to be Christian virtues. Huckabee might have been wrong about this particular criminal, but he was doing what he thought his God wanted. Republicans claim to be holier than the rest of us, but they reject the teachings of their own God. This is hypocrisy.

    December 2, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. DianeR PCFL

    Back in 1988, Governor Michael Dukakis was painted as another "soft-on crime" Northeastern liberal elitist by the Republicans for allowing Willie Horton (a convicted rapist) )) out on furlough ( who raped and killed while out on furlough) when he ran against GHWBush for president. Lee Atwater – the political adviser to Bush – did a doozie of a hatchet job painting Dukakis as a criminal-hugging, weak-on-defense liberal. However, we now know two certain things about the Christian Conservative, Palin-Wing (she forced rape vicitms to pay for their own rape kits as Mayor of Wasilla – Alaska at the time had the highest incidence of rape of any state in the country) of the RepubliKlan Party:

    1) they are the really the ones who "love" rapists, per their vote against the Franken Amendment in the Senate and Palin's actions as Mayor; and,

    (2) they are really the ones "hugging" murderous felons, per Huckabee's action as Governor of Arkansas.

    December 2, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. Mlhall

    Why are you telling Huckabee to step down? Step down from where? Some of you are just here to run on about nothering.

    December 2, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  21. Dale

    So long to the most credible Republican candidate for POTUS. Stick a fork in him, he's done.

    December 2, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Chicago 11

    I am not a Huckabee supporter but he is getting unfairly pilloried on this clemency issue. But it is the bitter medicine that a simplistic, scare-mongering GOP invented and patented 17 years ago so I guess there is some measure of retribution here, politically.

    Nonetheless, clemency and criminal justice are complex issues that can't be reduced to soundbites and one-size-fits-all approaches. That this turned out very badly after a number of years is tragic, but this should not be used as a gross reflection on the former Governor, nor on the justice system.

    People need to use some intelligence and thought here.

    December 2, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. v1ckster25

    What exactly do you people think Huckabee should step down from? He's not the Governor any more, he's a talk show host!

    December 2, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. JA

    You have to remember he granted this when the kid was 17 for burglary not MURDER. Does Huckabee have a crystal ball? Huck was the only candidate I had faith in and hoped they wouldn't find anything on him so he can run in 2012. I still want him to be president but I'm figuring this will ruin him. REMEMBER, Huckabee did NOT murder the cops the KILLER did. It's as if he's on trial for murder. Leave Huckabee alone-he is a good guy.

    December 2, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  25. oh please!

    Jeez, how can Huckabee be the blame? Higher ups excuse people all the time, it's part of the deal. It's one of the first things Obama did as president.

    Huckabee is obviously a Christian, and he did the Christian thing by granting this pardon. I know all the aethiests out there are rolling their eyes, but it is part of the Christian religion to forgive others the way God forgives us. Huckabee was practicing his faith as well as making a judgement by looking at evidence that was presented to him.
    Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson got off from crimes that they obviously commited, Huckabee is human and I don't see why this should affect a presidential bid. Bush killed thousands AS president and you all voted him back in.

    December 2, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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