LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The office of Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe on Friday reaffirmed his decision to pardon his son in a felony marijuana case amid complaints that he is showing favoritism.
Beebe, who leaves office in January because of term limits, said this week his next round of intended pardons, due in December, would include one for his son Kyle, who was convicted in 2003 of felony marijuana possession with intent to deliver.
The state Parole Board, whose members were all appointed by Beebe, has said Kyle Beebe, 34, did not receive any special treatment by the board while his application was pending.
Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said the governor's office had received dozens of comments since the governor announced his plan. "Some say it's a good start (toward pardoning all non-violent drug offenders) and others say he is abusing his power to provide a benefit to his family," DeCample said.
Beebe's office has a policy of not releasing constituent correspondence under a working papers exemption from the Freedom of Information Act.
Beebe has pardoned more than 700 people since taking office eight years ago, and at an increasing pace as the end of his term nears. He has announced pardons for 81 people in the last six months, and 50 in the six months before that. Half the pardons have gone to nonviolent drug offenders with cases similar to Kyle Beebe's.
"He didn't receive any special treatment," DeCample said Friday. "Every case is different. The governor reviews them as they come."
Kyle Beebe, who served three years' probation and paid $1,150 in fines and court costs for his conviction, applied for a pardon in June. His application included a letter asking his father for forgiveness, addressing him as "Dear Governor."
"I am asking for a second chance so that I can be a better father to my two little girls and a better husband to my wife. I am asking for a second chance to be a better son to my parents and prove to them that I am the person they raised me to be," he wrote.
The Parole Board, after hearing from the White County Sheriff's Department that it was "OK" with the request, recommended a pardon in October. Arkansas governors announce intended pardons or commutations with a 30-day comment period. If Beebe formally notifies the public of his intent to pardon his son next month, the process would have taken about six months.
Solomon Graves, a spokesman for the state Parole Board, said most pardon requests are processed within 12-18 months, but the time can vary.
"There might be something unique about the case, a time-sensitive matter, but on average it's within that 12-month time frame or so that file is getting to the board," Graves said.
Beebe, a Democrat, will leave office about 30 days after his next set of pardons are expected. A spokesman for Republican Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman who headed the Drug Enforcement Administration under former President George W. Bush, said it was unlikely the new governor would weigh in.
"Gov. Beebe is still the governor," spokesman J.R. Davis said.
Kyle Beebe was arrested March 28, 2003, after his girlfriend called deputies to complain he had pushed her. Deputies found more than an ounce of marijuana in a plastic bag. Kyle Beebe's application for a pardon said he had previously been convicted for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.