Pubdate: Fri, 14 Nov 2014
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2014 The New York Times Company
Author: Alan Blinder


Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas, before leaving office in January, plans 
to issue a pardon to his son, who was convicted of a felony drug 
offense more than a decade ago.

The governor's decision followed an October recommendation by the 
Arkansas Parole Board that Kyle Beebe's application for a pardon was 
"with merit." Mr. Beebe was convicted in 2003 of possession of 
marijuana with intent to deliver, and his sentence included three 
years of probation.

"At the time of my arrest, I was living in a fantasy world, not 
reality," Kyle Beebe, now 34, wrote in a letter to his father that 
was included in his June 21 pardon application. "I was young and 
dumb. At that time in my life, I felt like I was missing something, 
and I tried to fill that emptiness by selling drugs."

The letter concluded: "Mr. Governor, if you could please find it in 
your heart to forgive me, I will forever be grateful. I thank you for 
your consideration."

The governor, in an interview with KATV-TV, said that he would have 
granted the pardon earlier in his tenure, which will conclude in 
January because of term limits, but waited because his son had not 
submitted an application for clemency.

"I would have done it a long time ago if he'd have asked," the 
governor said, "but he took his sweet time about asking."

Mr. Beebe's spokesman, Matt DeCample, on Thursday denied that the 
governor had acted improperly when he made the decision on his son's 
pardon, one of more than 700 he has granted since he became governor in 2007.

"He held his son to the same standard that he holds anyone else to," 
Mr. DeCample said. "If you took the sticker with his son's name off 
the file, it would look like a lot of other files that have led to pardons."

The governor, Mr. DeCample said, has "a strong belief in second chances."

The seven-member Parole Board said the authorities in White County, 
where Kyle Beebe was convicted, had not objected to his application 
for clemency. Six board members supported Mr. Beebe's application; 
the seventh, Dawne Vandiver, did not vote on the application.

The governor, an immensely popular Democrat who was state attorney 
general at the time of his son's conviction, has been embroiled in a 
controversy about pardons for more than a week.

Mr. Beebe said on Nov. 5 that he intended to pardon Michael E. 
Jackson, who was convicted in a Faulkner County court of Internet 
stalking of a child.

Mr. Jackson is a friend of Mr. Beebe's family, and the authorities in 
Faulkner County, including the sheriff and the prosecutor, opposed 
his bid for clemency.

Although Mr. Beebe defended his plans, his office said Wednesday that 
officials were reviewing "an affidavit in a Faulkner County 
child-custody case" concerning Mr. Jackson.

"While the accusations are unrelated to that conviction, and there 
does not appear to be any criminal investigation into the matter, 
Jackson's pardon will not be granted until, and unless, the 
accusations are found to be untrue," the governor's office said in a statement.
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