December 2nd, 2009
02:32 PM ET
8 years ago

HuckPAC coordinator steps down, citing clemency decision

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. oldtimer

    How stupid do you have to be to give clemency to a convict with a 99 year sentence. And this is the best the GOP can come up with. This man needs to crawl in a hole and never be seen or heard from again.

    December 2, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. Dyan, Minnesota

    On one hand, it's nice to see a Republican getting burned on this issue after those hateful Willie Horton ads. There is a certain cosmic justice in what has happened to Huckabee's career.

    But on the other hand, I want my elected officials to exercise their clemency power. There are no guarantees when it comes to human behavior, but that doesn't mean that we should just slam the prison door shut with no hope of a future. Clemency is one way for Governors and Presidents to reach out to show mercy and (if needed) to correct miscarriages of justice.

    Frankly, I think it should be used more. There has to be a balance between justice, forgivness and pure vengence. Clemency is one tool to achieve that balance.

    December 2, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Marilyn

    Huckabee is toast. Period. Thank goodness!! I won't vote for Obama in 2012, but I could never vote for an evangelical preacher either.

    December 2, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. Andrea

    Huckabee was unelectable BEFORE he chose to give clemency to a criminal that was slated to serve over 100 years. There is no one in the GOP that IS electable at this point – by a longshot.

    December 2, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. Helen

    That "Fool" had a 95 year sentence. Yeah, someone needs to step down. Innocent lives were lost.

    The first time he got in trouble his release should have been revoke. The signs were there. Unfortuately, the decease officers and their families have had to pay for this action.

    Praying daily....because I just don't understand WHY.

    December 2, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Steven Daedalus

    The rats are jumping off the ship.

    December 2, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Beverly in NC

    Huckabee's political career is over so no aspiring political career person is going to waste their time on a loser.

    The Republican Party has no viable candidiate for any national office and they are running off anyone with common sense that might run with their laughable "purity test". The Republican Party is lost in the wilderness. They have done NOTHING this entire year but criticize, tell lies, promote hate, fear, and racism. They are anti-American and no one is going to support these traitors of the People they were supposed to be serving.

    Huckabee is just one example of their hypocrisy and poor judgment on critical issues facing and affecting our lives.

    December 2, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  8. Sea.gem

    If it were a Dem he wouldn't quit...even if guilty in a crime, a Dem will blame eveyone else and cry 'victim'...

    December 2, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. NVa Native

    Honesty and compassion is a death blow for a republican politician. The only thing worse would be admitting a mistake. So long Chuk-ah-bee.
    He and Palin are better at making cash off the simple minded Fox following tea-baggers anyway.

    December 2, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. Pass The Word

    The system failed here. Huckabee made a decision on the information placed before him at the time, 9 years ago.

    The problem is with the nine years since his release. He has been in and out jail on very serious charges. The system and those involved recently are the ones to blame here, not Huckabee. No matter how liberals, atheists and others try to paint it, it doesn't fly.

    If this had happened one or two years after his release, they might have an argument.

    Why is it that reason seems to elude the liberal mind?

    December 2, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Harold W. Baum

    Govenor Huckebee: Will you be attending the funerals for the four slain police officers in Tacoma, Washingto?

    December 2, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. Dan

    finally someone with guts to stand up to his actions. too bad for the many teenage offenders hoping for clemency these days.

    December 2, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Vietnam vet

    Anyone remember Willie Horton and how upset the Repubs were over this. I am waiting for the Republican outrage on this, so far...silence.

    December 2, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. Bryan

    There is a reason why certain criminals get 90+ year jail sentences. It's so they don't get let back out on the street to commit more crimes. Given Clemmons history during his original term I don't how anyone could possibly think he wouldn't keep committing violent crimes once he got back out. He attempted to attack the judge during his original trial. He attacked his guards during that same trial, and he committed numerous violations including assaults while serving 11 years of a 95 year sentence.

    The blame certainly can't be put squarely on Huckabee since the parole board recommended his release (god only knows why), but ultimately Huckabee made the decision to release this animal back into society where he then picked up right where he left off as a teenager.

    December 2, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Independent in NC

    How could Huckabee have possibly known what this man would do later in life? It's a tragedy, but the only person to blame is the man who committed the crime.

    By the way, how many of you think that a white teen in Arkansas would have been given 100 years for burglary? If Huckabee hadn't granted clemency, he would have been under fire for being racist. There's never an easy solution to issues like this.

    December 2, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. billy123

    It apears he is leaving a sinking ship.

    December 2, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Deja Vu Huckabee

    Another don't do as I do, do as I say republican.

    December 2, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Adam S

    If only Huckabee could have pardoned a few thousand cheesburgers the way he pardoned one (obvious) career criminal.

    December 2, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Diane

    I am not a Republican, I vote independently, and I'm not a fan of Huckabee. However, people who are trying to make him responsible for crimes that another person committed, just because he followed the recommendation of a parole board nine years ago, are really not informed about crime and punishment issues. If you want to lock up every person forever who committs a robbery or assault, there would be no room for all the prisons in the US. Besides, this guy was clearly crazy when he murdered these poor people, and how was Huckabee suppposed to predict that outcome. Some people are really big on personal responsibility–how about this–the guy who committed the murders was responsible and no one else.

    December 2, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. Bubble of Sanity

    Huckabee was the best hope of the Republican party and maybe the nation. Of course, the media can kill anyone, and the distorted reporting about this situation has proven that they will do so mercilessly.

    I'm glad he's probably out of the race. He was too good to waste on an ungrateful group of self-seekers.

    We wonder why we never get anyone of any real value to run for president. It's because decent people do not want to be crucified.

    December 2, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. LogicSays

    I know first hand about clemency. I have seen the rap sheets of people granted clemency. After seeing the rap sheets of these people I am referring too it was beyond me how they were let off the hook and granted anything but the death penalty or a life sentence.
    Huckabee had to have seen the rap sheet of this clown. I don't know if the guy had any major priors but if he did then all of this huckabee support would make a person sick. I can't imagine the comments on here if this would have been Obama and not Huckabee.

    December 2, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. jack

    Looks like Huc just had his Michael Dukakis monent. And we all know how that turned out for the presidential hopeful.

    December 2, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. Bull from NEPA

    Elected people need to butt out when it comes to dealing with cons.
    These people are in prison for a reason.Leave them there.

    December 2, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  24. Robyn

    So Huckabee has his own Willie Horton now.

    Of course, the man that Huckakee personally reduced the prison sentence of by 61 years had a life long record of violent criminal behavior with 13 separate felony charge and convictions with multiple act of felony violence.

    This compares to the one act of murder and assault committed by Willie Horton, who was part of a furlough program supported by Michael Dukakis.

    Horton went on to commit rape and assault against two people.

    Clemmons went on to commit multiple parole violations, multiple felony assaults, multiple sexual abuse of children before finally murdering four police officers in a planned execution.

    It will be interesting to see how the Republican Party will spin this.

    December 2, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. Mars

    Though I am not a Huckabee fan and would never vote for him, I disagree with attempts to vilify him for playing a distant role in this tragedy. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

    The only thing that bothers me about this is that most conservatives, including Fox News hardliners, will treat this incident with kid gloves, when, if Huckabee were a democrat, they'd be calling for his head. Even so, I don't advocate some people's attempts to pin the blame of this solely on Huckabee.

    December 2, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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