Simply bizarre. Huck’s maintained all along that he thought there was reason to doubt Dumond’s guilt; in fact, Ashley Stevens, the victim interviewed in the clip below, says he told her that to her face when they met. With letters from three other victims in his files, though, why on earth would he persist in going to bat for the guy? And why, also per the clip below, is he telling audiences that he didn’t lobby for Dumond’s parole when there are four parole board members who say that he did and one who’s willing to say so on camera?

[I]n a 2002 story I wrote for the Arkansas Times about Huckabee’s role in freeing Dumond, four board members — three of who spoke on the record — said that Huckabee lobbied and pressured board members on the matter. This included a 1996 executive meeting at which the board’s recording secretary — who ordinarily tapes the entire sessions — was asked to leave the room. Several board members and members of the state legislator have said the secret session violated state law.

The campaign also initially denied that Huck had the letters in his files — until HuffPo produced them:

Huckabee kept these and other documents secret because they were politically damaging, according to a former aide who worked for him in Arkansas. The aide has made the records available to the Huffington Post, deeply troubled by Huckabee’s repeated claims that he had no reason to believe Dumond would commit other violent crimes upon his release from prison. The aide also believes that Huckabee, for political reasons, has deliberately attempted to cover up his knowledge of Dumond’s other sexual assaults.

“There were no letters sent to the governor’s office from any rape victims,” Huckabee campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart said on Tuesday when contacted by the Huffington Post.

Subsequently, however, the campaign provided a former senior aide of Huckabee’s who did remember reading at least one of the letters.

There’s an unconvincing suggestion in the HuffPo piece that Huck simply refused to accept a rape victim’s word over a rapist’s. The only alternative to simple stupidity for all this is hinted at in the clip, where Brian Ross floats the possibility that since one of Dumond’s victims was known to be distantly related to Bill Clinton, Arkansas Republicans thought he might have been railroaded and wanted to undo the injustice. I’m highly skeptical that Huck would risk his political future on an anti-Clinton ploy as baroque as that, especially if he knew from the victim’s letters that Dumond would be a menace upon being paroled. Any other theories?

Team Huckabee counters this morning by pointing to an old story in which Huck’s office acknowledged receiving at least one letters, which certainly reduces the scoop value to HuffPo but gets us no closer to figuring out why he then went ahead and lobbied the parole board on this cretin’s behalf. Exit question: Will any of this hurt him? Unless someone can come up with a better explanation than negligence and/or naivete, I’m guessing no. And even if it does, he’s suddenly got a bit of a margin of error.

Update: I don’t usually post hate mail but I thought the Fredheads, who’ve complained so often about me, would enjoy this. From my latest missive: “Why don’t you just write a story entitled ‘I Want to Have Fred Thompson’s Next Child and I Hate Rudi, Huckabee, and Shep Smith, and So Should You’? Then maybe you can find closure and get to real journalism.”

Update: Huck’s camp e-mails with a point I meant to mention earlier. The graphic on the ABC piece is misleading. Huckabee didn’t pardon Dumond, Dumond was paroled — thanks in part to lobbying from Huck. It’s the board’s decision ultimately but the question remains: Why, if Huck was willing to campaign for Dumond’s early release, didn’t he just pardon him himself? Likely answer: Because he didn’t want the political fallout to rest solely on him if Dumond killed anyone when he got out.

Update: In response to my wondering why Huckabee would go to bat after having received these letters, Joe Carter, Huck’s director of research, e-mails:

First, the authenticity of the letters is questionable. All documents that are put into the Governor’s files are stamped with a time and date. These do not have that stamp.

Second, the idea that Dumond was railroaded was a live topic in AR for many years. The biggest paper in the state made the claim repeatedly (see attached editorial) and some key evidence was dismissed. After personally talking with the rape victim, Ashley Stevens, Governor Huckabee had not lingering doubts about Dumond’s guilt. However, Dumond had been castrated and had already served twice as long for the crime as is typical for the state. That is why the parole board did not find his release objectionable.

The “attached editorial” is the one by John R. Starr excerpted here. As for the authenticity of the letters, read Geraghty’s post again. At least one of them appears to be genuine.