In early 1997, the Arkansas parole board pardoned Wayne Dumond, who had been convicted of raping a high school student. After his release, he murdered and sexually assaulted a woman in Missouri. Mike Huckabee denied having exerted any influence on the decision, but he was fudging the truth. In fact, as discovered in a startling 2002 report in the Arkansas Times, Gov. Huckabee was personally involved in securing Dumond's release. From that 9/2002 report:
New sources, including an advisor to Gov. Mike Huckabee, have told the Arkansas Times that Huckabee and a senior member of his staff exerted behind-the-scenes influence to bring about the parole of rapist Wayne Dumond, who Missouri authorities say raped and killed a woman there shortly after his parole.
Huckabee has denied a role in Dumond's release, which has become an issue in his race for re-election against Democrat Jimmie Lou Fisher. Fisher says Huckabee's advocacy of Dumond's freedom, plus other acts of executive clemency, exhibit poor judgment. In response, Huckabee has shifted responsibility for Dumond's release to others, claiming former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker made Dumond eligible for parole and saying the Post Prison Transfer Board made the decision on its own to free Dumond.
But the Times' new reporting shows the extent to which Huckabee and a key aide were involved in the process to win Dumond's release. It was a process marked by deviation from accepted parole practice and direct personal lobbying by the governor, in an apparently illegal and unrecorded closed-door meeting with the parole board (the informal name by which the Post Prison Transfer Board is known).
Mike Huckabee and his wife Janet were married in 1974, so what were they doing with online gift registries at Target and Dillard's in 2006? The answer: they wanted loot to fill their half-million dollar new home after Gov. Huckabee left office. It just so happens that wedding gifts are exempted from the state's ethics disclosure laws. The Times Record had the story on 11/13/2006:
"Wedding" registries in the names of Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife, Janet, have been set up at two department store chains in advance of the Huckabees' move out of the Governor's Mansion into a private home.
The term-limited governor leaves office in January, and friends of Janet Huckabee created the registries at Dillard's and Target stores to help facilitate their transition to private life, Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart said Friday
. . .
Arkansas law prohibits public servants from accepting any gift worth more than $100, unless the gift is conferred "on account of a bona fide personal, professional or business relationship" independent of the recipient's official status.
"Items costing more than $100 which are given to public servants to show appreciation for their efforts (i.e., to reward them for doing their job) or to reward them for past or future action are prohibited under this rule," the law states.
Gifts from relatives are not prohibited, nor are wedding or engagement gifts.
. . .
Items on the Target registry range in price from $2 for napkins and place mats to $250 for a 12-piece Kitchen Essentials cookware set. The registry also notes that Target gift cards can be purchased for amounts up to $1,000.
A March 2006 report in the Arkansas Times indicated that some 80 percent of Arkansas public-school biology teachers are either not teaching evolution or not doing so adequately. That's no surprise, if you listen to the borderline creationist rhetoric coming from Arkansas's governor. The same report relayed the following excerpt from a July 2004 episode of "Arkansans Ask," the governor's public-access TV show:
Student: Many schools in Arkansas are failing to teach students about evolution according to the educational standards of our state. Since it is against these standards to teach creationism, how would you go about helping our state educate students more sufficiently for this?
Huckabee: Are you saying some students are not getting exposure to the various theories of creation?
Student (stunned): No, of evol ... well, of evolution specifically. It's a biological study that should be educated [taught], but is generally not.
Moderator: Schools are dodging Darwinism? Is that what you ...?
Huckabee: I'm not familiar that they're dodging it. Maybe they are. But I think schools also ought to be fair to all views. Because, frankly, Darwinism is not an established scientific fact. It is a theory of evolution, that's why it's called the theory of evolution. And I think that what I'd be concerned with is that it should be taught as one of the views that's held by people. But it's not the only view that's held. And any time you teach one thing as that it's the only thing, then I think that has a real problem to it.
Belying his moderate, positive image, Mike Huckabee took the opportunity in a speech of March 2006 to make a shocking, drive-by dig at a gay Congressman. The New Republic 's blog The Plank made the catch on 4/3/06:
Addressing Iowa's Christian Alliance last month, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister and GOP presidential aspirant, used some artful, offensive language to rile up his conservative Christian followers: "In our lifetimes, we've seen our country go from 'Leave It to Beaver' to 'Beavis and Butt-head,' from Barney Fife to Barney Frank, from 'Father Knows Best' to television shows where father knows nothing."
So, fine, the first one makes sense. The second is just overt gay-bashing, unless Huckabee was ragging Barney Frank for embodying some un-Barney Fife-like quality. Competence, maybe?
From the looks of it, Mike Huckabee hopes to run as the right-wing darling in the GOP primaries. But if so, he'll have run away from his record, which is riddled with tax increases. In May 2006, the Club for Growth laid out the indictment:
* Huckabee signed a gas tax hike in 1999
* He called for a state sales tax hike in 2002
* He signed a 25-cent cigarette tax hike in 2003
* He publicly opposed the repeal of a sales tax on groceries and medicine in 2002
* He increased state spending 65.3% from 1996 to 2004
* He allowed a major tax hike package to pass in 2004
* He received a "D" grade on fiscal issues from the Cato Institute in 2004
* He raised the minimum wage this year
Separation of church and state
Americans are a religious people, to be sure, but are they ready for a President who is also an ordained preacher in the Southern Baptist Church? It's an especially troubling issue given that Huckabee seems to have trouble distinguishing his governmental and sacramental roles. The Washington Post asked him about this on 5/23/2006:
Asked whether he considers himself to be more "preacher" or "politician," Huckabee insisted that it is impossible to separate the two. "I would say that my faith has everything to do with my politics," he explained.