First to Target a GOP Presidential Candidate
SEATTLE, WA -- Jonathan Martin, columnist for the Seattle Times broke the news today that "Truth Squad 2016" was formed to let voters know about Mike Huckabee's horrific record as governor of Arkansas. Read the story below for all the details. Here's the Link, too: CLICK HERE
One of those prisoners released early was Maurice Clemmons who had been sentenced to 108 years in state prison, but Huckabee let him out after he had only served 11 years. After Clemmons was released he moved to Seattle, Washington.Originally published June 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm Updated June 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm
widow of slain Lakewood officer Sgt. Mark Renninger. (John Lok/The Seattle Times)
A widow of the Lakewood police shootings is turning her sights to Mike Huckabee, who granted mercy to her husband’s killer, writes Jonathan Martin.
On the fourth anniversary of her husband’s murder, Kim Renninger got a tattoo on the instep of her left foot reading, “Keep moving one step forward.”
It is a discreet, poignant reminder of her mission to make something out of the death of Sgt. Mark Renninger and three officers in the 2009 Lakewood police shootings — the worst act of violence ever committed against police in Washington. Her to-do list has included a change to the state Constitution, reform of interstate parole rules and keeping watch over the seven felony prosecutions stemming from the shooting.
Now comes the last big one: holding Mike Huckabee accountable for his role in the tragedy. The former Arkansas governor and contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination made a disastrous decision to grant clemency to Mark Renninger’s killer, Maurice Clemmons, which set him on the path to that Parkland coffee shop.
And despite hearing from the president, vice president and governors of at least three states, Kim Renninger has never received a call or a note from Huckabee.
“The person who got this ball rolling was Huckabee,” said Renninger. “I don’t have any other way to hold him accountable or make change. I can’t sue him. This is the way to do it.”
Spotlighting Huckabee’s Maurice Clemmons problem may take her to the Iowa presidential caucuses, which Huckabee won in 2008, or appearances on TV ads. She is getting advice from a GOP political consultant and former presidential candidate, Fred Karger. Renninger found Karger after reading his sharp critique of Huckabee. That led them to create a political action committee (PAC) called Truth Squad 2016. Karger is fundraising now, targeting an initial budget of $1 million.
Renninger could be a big problem for Huckabee because she has a legitimate grievance. I co-wrote a book, with Ken Armstrong, about Clemmons and the Lakewood police shootings called “The Other Side of Mercy.” I was struck by the apparent casualness of some of Huckabee’s choices.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. (AP Photo/Charlie... More
As governor, he used his power to pardon or commute sentences 1,033 times over 11 years — twice as often as his three predecessors (including Bill Clinton) did in 17 years. Clemency decisions gone wrong have been well-chronicled, particularly in Arkansas, including the release of a rapist named Wayne DuMond, who raped and murdered again when given a second chance by Huckabee.
The power of clemency — the unfettered right of an executive to free inmates or wipe a record clean — can be an important relief valve in the criminal-justice system. Governors tend to cringe at its inherent political risks and have underused it. But Huckabee is a bad vehicle for a broader reconsideration of redemption because he was a clemency radical.
Clemmons was a poor candidate for mercy. Yes, he had been sentenced to 108 years as a teenager for a series of crimes, including for assault and for stealing a state trooper’s gun from his home. But Clemmons was an abysmal prison inmate, accumulating 29 disciplinary infractions versus zero accomplishments. He spewed venom in letters from prison. His only record of rehabilitation were self-serving statements. Prosecutors repeatedly opposed parole.
Renninger acknowledges that Huckabee was just a link in a chain of poor decisions that led to the shootings on Nov. 29, 2009, in that coffee shop. But it galls her that this part of Huckabee’s record has been mostly skipped by the media so far in favor of his defense of reality-TV star Josh Duggar.
“The clemency issue should be the discussion. It’s a big decision with lasting effects,” said Renninger. “I think there’s a time and a place for clemency. But it has to be used wisely, not like Huckabee used it.”
Huckabee has accurately said that a prominent judge supported clemency and that, as governor, he followed the unanimous recommendation of his parole board to cut Clemmons’ sentence effectively in half. In a statement, Huckabee portrayed Kim Renninger as a tool of “Washington and Wall Street elites” who typically fund political attacks.
“It’s heartbreaking that these widows are being exploited for the political benefit of these secret-agenda-driven ‘super PAC’ donors. This is Washington, D.C.,-style gutter politics at its worst.”
When I met with Renninger Wednesday, it was clear she was no political puppet, but a woman with a mission. She has not remarried and her 8-year-old son, Nick, is among the nine children of the slain officers. He has no memory of his father, but constantly asks about him.
“I didn’t lose my husband. He was murdered. I know where he’s buried in Pennsylvania,” said Renninger. “What I did lose is I lost my family. I lost trust. I lost security. I lost comfort. Literally every aspect of my life has changed.”
For now, she’s the only grieving family member involved with the Truth Squad group. “I’m the first, but I won’t be the last.”