When it comes to fiscal policy, however, Huckabee is all over the map. He proclaims his fierce opposition to taxing and spending, of course, saying in his official biography that he “pushed through the Arkansas legislature the first major, broad-based tax cuts in state history” and “led efforts to establish a Property Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.” Yet he has raised taxes several times during his tenure as governor, and once defended himself by saying, “What do our critics want — to rip the feeding tubes out of an 8-year-old or an elderly person on Medicaid?”
It looks like Huckabee is going to continue to try to walk this tightrope as he takes his campaigning national. During an appearance in Iowa last week, Huckabee would not say that he supported cutting taxes. Instead he announced his opposition to raising them. “I think the key right now is to prevent taxes from going up,” he said.
The major tax cut that he claimed, the omnibus income tax cuts for working families in 1997, was the program of Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, who resigned before the legislative session where it was enacted. The legislature rejected Huckabee’s plan but he signed the bill patterned on Tucker plan and thus can claim some credit for it.
Challenged on tax increases, Huckabee told Russert that the Arkansas Supreme Court forced some and that the voters had voted to raise highway taxes. Actually no, voters approved a bond issue in 1999. Half the road taxes, those on diesel, were to be levied even if the bond issue failed.
At the same time, Huckabee recently has carved out more moderate positions on immigration and education. He opposed a bill introduced this year in the Arkansas legislature that would deny state benefits to undocumented immigrants, on the grounds that it violated the spirit of Christianity. “I drink a different kind of Jesus juice,” Huckabee said in reference to the bill’s right-wing sponsor. Huckabee supported another bill that would have allowed the undocumented high school graduates to qualify for in-state tuition and scholarships.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has asked a state judge to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses him hopeful of breaking the law when his administration destroyed government-owned hard drives as he left office in January.
Jim Parsons of Bella Vista filed a lawsuit last month in Pulaski County Circuit Court accusing Huckabee of violating the state's Freedom of Information Act and a state law prohibiting damaging a computer without authorization.
Parsons' suit asks the court to "send a message that destroying public records is not the standard operating procedure" of elected officials when they leave office.
Shortly after the fund-transfer incident, it was learned that before leaving office, Huckabee had used up the governor’s emergency fund, in part to destroy computer hard drives in the governor’s office. That left the new governor, Mike Beebe, with no emergency money for the last six months of the fiscal year. It left everyone else with questions about the destruction of state property, and whatever was on those hard drives that Huckabee was so desperate to conceal. The emergency fund is used in cases of disaster, tornadoes and the like. The governor’s concern for saving lives had subsided, apparently, or at least been given a lower priority than concealing information from the public. Maybe Huckabee had learned from Richard Nixon, who neglected to destroy the evidence and paid a price.
The Club For Growth PAC thinks Huckabee Lied about his gas tax hike. Huckabee says the voters approved it, CFG says not.
When Huckabee was lieutenant governor in 1994, he helped incorporate Action America, an organization that seemed to exist only to provide an additional source of income for him, mostly shielded from prying eyes. Donors could contribute to Action America without being subject to campaign limits and disclosure requirements. Huckabee subsequently received $61,500 during the corporation’s 2-1/2-year existence, for delivering speeches at Action America events.
Huckabee was sued in 1998 for improperly accepting gifts and misusing a $60,000 Governor’s Mansion account for personal expenditures. The Arkansas Times obtained internal documents and other evidence of Huckabee’s use of public money for personal expenses. To his embarrassment, lists of Huckabee’s gifts were printed in Arkansas newspapers, including $70,000 worth of furniture from a single political supporter in Leachville. (Huckabee eventually was forced to disavow the furniture as his, because of legal complications.) A lawsuit over Mansion practices was settled without Huckabee admitting wrongdoing.
Only two weeks ago, a legislative audit discovered several more questionable practices associated with the Governor’s Mansion, some of which concerned the private association created to raise money for Mansion improvements. The audit report noted the close relationship between the association and mansion administrators, calling it “constitutionally suspect.”
Evidently without consulting legislators, his Cabinet, or anyone else who knows something of the law and state budgeting, Huckabee ordered that money appropriated by the legislature for other purposes be given instead to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Under the governor’s plan, the money would have been used for cancer research and the endowment of a faculty position named for a UAMS physician who helped Huckabee lose a considerable amount of weight. The proposed naming was an inordinate show of admiration for the physician. Under Huckabee, things usually got named for him or his wife.
Legislators questioned the legality of Huckabee’s proposal and even Alan Sugg, president of the University of Arkansas System, suggested that it might be best to obtain legislative approval in the session that was only a few days away. Huckabee threw a fit, rescinded the transfer of money to UAMS, ordered that the funds be used for other, non-medical purposes, and assailed Sugg for exercising good judgment. In a letter to the UA president, Huckabee said the money would have been used for “noble and worthy projects” and saved many lives. “But your reluctance to accept these funds due to a small number of legislative detractors makes it necessary to take this action.”
Why necessary, one asks. Are lives any less worth saving if it’s done legally? State Sen. Jim Argue said of Huckabee’s behavior, “It’s a shame the governor ends on this angry, punitive note.”
Another issue sure to come up if Huckabee contends for national office is his involvement in the 1999 parole of rapist Wayne Dumond, who went on to murder a woman in Missouri. A 2002 cover story in the Arkansas Times detailed Huckabee’s personal intervention in the Post Prison Transfer Board’s deliberations about Dumond’s release. Huckabee supported Dumond after being influenced by conservative activists who said Dumond got a raw deal because his victim was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton.
As governor, he was unusually charitable to prisoners, and the most famous of his intercessions, for Wayne Dumond, caused the death of a couple of women in Missouri. He got the state parole board to release Dumond, who was in prison for raping a Forrest City girl, and Dumond was convicted soon afterward of murdering a woman in Missouri and was a suspect in the death of another. He died in prison. Huckabee would maintain that he had nothing to do with Dumond’s release although he had advocated it and expressed his satisfaction to Dumond himself. He has blamed his predecessor, Jim Guy Tucker, and even Bill Clinton, whose relative was the rape victim.
Someone apparently passed along to Russert free-lance reporter Murray Waas’ documented Arkansas Times account of Huckabee’s pleading with the board in a secret meeting to release Dumond. Russert asked Huckabee if he had talked to the parole board. Huckabee first said he had not talked with the board about Dumond.
“You never mentioned Wayne Dumond?” Russert asked with obvious incredulity.
“No,” Huckabee said, adding then “they brought it up to me.” He said they asked him if he thought Dumond should be paroled and he replied that he thought the rapist’s case should be given “you know, a serious look.”
That is not what the board members said. They said Dumond was the purpose of the private meeting and that Huckabee brought it up.
Is it worse to find that Governor Huckabee is unaccountably missing or that his secretive spokesman/brother-in-law is not?
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor arrived at the Capitol thinking he had an appointment with Huckabee to discuss the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. The senator said he was on a mission to find problems and fix them.
Finding ’em, fixing ’em and forgetting ’em was not on Huckabee’s agenda. According to a newspaper account, “Huckabee’s whereabouts were a mystery. Gubernatorial spokesman Jim Harris wouldn’t say where Huckabee was or what he was doing. He said Huckabee was scheduled to meet with someone else somewhere in Arkansas, but he wouldn’t say where that was or who it was with.”
To recap, Huckabee was off somewhere with somebody — doing something, presumably. Ordinarily, people want to know a little more than that of the governor’s activities, being as he works for them, but they and a stood-up Senator Pryor were left to speculate
The twin-engine jet that ferried Gov. Mike Huckabee, his wife, his daughter, a staff member and at least one security officer to the North Carolina Republican Party convention in Raleigh on June 2 was provided by the director of the Lord’s Ranch, a religious-based youth home in Warm Springs that had a conflict-filled relationship with the state before Huckabee became governor.
The Cessna Citation SII jet, which lost one of its two engines during the flight, and made an emergency landing in Chattanooga, is owned by Southeastern Asset Management, a corporation registered in New Hampshire whose manager of record is Ted Suhl. Suhl is director of the Lord’s Ranch. Suhl and others connected to the youth home have given thousands of dollars to past Huckabee campaigns; about six years ago, it got its first contract with the state Department of Health and Human Services to provide services to troubled young people. In 2000, the contract was for $140,460 for psychological services; currently, the Lord’s Ranch gets payments for services through Medicaid — about $8.5 million in fiscal 2006, according to DHHS spokeswoman Julie Munsell. State tax revenues provide about 25 percent of Medicaid’s budget in Arkansas. Under state ethics rules, unless Huckabee reimburses the plane’s owner for the trip, it is considered a gift because the travel was not for official business. And elected officials are prohibited from accepting gifts valued at over $100 unless the official has a relationship with the giver outside his capacity as a public servant and the gift is not a reward for the official doing his job. The fact that the Lord’s Ranch’s relationship with the state has blossomed since Huckabee took office 10 years ago makes it questionable whether Suhl could claim he wasn’t rewarding Huckabee. Even if use of the plane could be claimed as a permissible gift to Huckabee, the governor would have to report it on his annual financial disclosure statement, but that isn’t due until the first of next year.
The Lord’s Ranch has run afoul of the state in the past. In 1990, the state Child Care Review Board voted to revoke the home’s license because of 16 violations, including improper use of restraints on children. The Lord’s Ranch officials denied using restraints improperly, and the board changed its mind and recommended granting a six-month provisional license after getting more information.
In 1994, Ranch officials refused to allow state monitors to inspect the home, and a 1996 report cited continuing compliance problems. But the relationship thawed considerably in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the state gave the Lord’s Ranch its first contract, worth $140,490. Huckabee also appointed Suhl to the Child Welfare Agency Review Board — he was reappointed in 2004 — and appointed Russell Dixon, director of the ranch’s psychiatric program, to the state Psychology Board (his current term ends in 2009). The Ranch is currently in good standing with DHHS, Munsell said.
Gov. Mike Huckabee has used the Arkansas State Police´s twin-engine plane to travel to and from destinations outside of the state more than 30 times during 2005, according to flight logs reviewed by the Arkansas Times. After the Arkansas Times began making inquiries about Huckabee’s use of the state-financed airplane, he issued a press release highlighting a $2 million education grant that Arkansas received from the Governors Association.
“On occasion, there are those who want to make an issue of the out-of-state travel requirements associated with my chairmanship of the NGA,” Huckabee said in the Oct. 12 release. “What you don’t often read or see is the direct benefits that accrue to our state as a result of my holding some of these positions.”
However, an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article published two days later revealed that the grant was awarded before Huckabee became the NGA chairman and that a “committee independent of the NGA” decided who received the awards.
Among the reasons Huckabee may be sensitive to criticism regarding his use of the police plane is its expense: Using Huckabee’s Sept. 21-23 round trip to Andrews Air Force Base (outside Washington, D.C.) as an example, invoices provided by the State Police show fuel expenses totaling $1,962 and travel reimbursements for the two pilots (including pay for a non-salaried co-pilot) at $1,977, for a total of $3,939 — and that does not take into account the main pilot’s $32 per hour salaried rate or maintenance and depreciation costs. The State Police commissioned the King Air 200 into service in 1997.
And what did his spokesman say about how he decides which trips ought to be paid for by the state or by him?
His press secretary, Alice Stewart, said, “Whether we are talking in general or about specifics, when it is a matter of travel it is a security issue and we’re not going to comment.”
The governor intends to reduce the life sentence of Glen Martin Green, a former airman at the Little Rock Air Force Base who confessed and was found guilty of killing an 18-year-old pregnant woman and was sentenced to life in prison. Green was only 22 when the crime was committed in 1974. The members of the parole board voted unanimously not to release Green, but in Arkansas the governor has the last word.
Huckabee refuses to discuss commutations and why he thinks they are needed, but he apparently made his decision in this case after listening to a 30-year friend of his, the Rev. Johnny Jackson, an interim pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville who says he has been a spiritual adviser to Green. Jackson calls Green "a poster boy of rehabilitation" and believes that Green had accidentally run over the woman in his car, got scared and took her body to Lonoke County and dumped it in the Twin Prairie Bayou.
However, Jacksonville policemen who handled the case say that Green tried to rape the woman, who was on the base waiting to see her boyfriend. When she fought back, Green hit her, threw her in his car, drove to an isolated place in Lonoke County, ran his car over her and threw her body into the bayou.
I have to stop now, there's just too much, but let me say that, in my opinion, he's not some kind of halo-encircled person who, simply on the basis of saying he's Christian, should get the job of president. Some of the things he does remind me of both Nixon AND Junior. And he definitely doesn't seem either ethical NOR fiscally responsible.
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