Mike Beebe says his son "will be treated just like everybody else in the same situation"
Kyle Beebe was charged in 2003 with possession of marijuana
The outgoing governor says he intends to issue a pardon
The Arkansas Parole Board recommended Kyle's pardon last month
Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe is leaving office with a personal problem that has gone national: His decision to pardon his own son.
Kyle Beebe was charged in 2003 with possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) and served three years probation and paid a fine. Critics have said the decision is proof that Beebe is abusing his power as he leaves the governor’s mansion.
The accusation, Beebe said, hurts him.
“Am I disappointed, of course. Does it hurt, sure. Would I have a tendencies to lash out, yes, I am human,” said the two-term governor, a Democrat. “But I acknowledge and accept that this is part of life and people will say what people will say.”
The issue, Beebe made clear during an interview in his Little Rock office on Friday, is more than just a political one for him.
“On a personal note, I am embarrassed,” Beebe said at his Little Rock office on Friday. “And have been since 2003 when he got in trouble. His mother is embarrassed. The main thing is, he is embarrassed.”
The Arkansas Parole Board recommended Kyle’s pardon last month. It came after the now 34-year-old wrote a lengthy letter in his pardon application that for “a second chance at life.”
While some see the issue as an abuse of power, Beebe sees the issue more about fairness. According to his office, the governor has granted 717 pardons, most of which have been for young people with drug convictions.
“This one is being scrutinized for obvious reasons,” Beebe said. “But if I grant him the pardon, and I intend to when it ever reaches me desk, he will be treated just like everybody else in the same situation.”
He added, “I understand the scrutiny but it is not like he is inconsistent with what my policy has been for eight years.”
It was clear, too, that Beebe feels slight guilt for the fact that his son’s drug trouble has become a national news story.
“He is under a bigger microscope than others similarly situated. Through no fault of his own, he just happened to be my son,” Beebe said. “He is under a bigger microscope and it is my fault, not his fault. If I wasn’t governor, he wouldn’t be under a bigger microscope.”
Beebe, though, will be leaving that microscopic scrutiny in months. He is term-limited and his choice to succeed him, Mike Ross, lost his race for governor to Republican Asa Hutchinson. Beebe swore on Friday that his time in politics is over, and despite this being one of the last aspects of his legacy, it does not leave him feeling burned.
“When you are in this seat, when you are in this office, the awareness is heightened, everything you do is heightened, everything that affects you is heightened,” Beebe said. “But that is part of it. That is the risk you take. You hate it for your family because your family gets pulled into it. But it is life.”