When a candidate for President “breaks out” from obscurity to viability, he often finds the accompanying spotlight to be double-edged. While he now enjoys media attention which often amounts to free advertising to stoke his momentum, the light also may shine into areas of his past he might prefer remain in the shadows. Mike Huckabee’s emerging campaign is finding this out.
Wizbang reader Paul Hooson has pointed out on several “Huckabee” topics that the former Arkansas Governor had a habit of accepting expensive gifts from supporters, and the ethical questions surrounding these gifts (and, in several cases, subsequent appointments to government positions and/or favorable contracts or legislation) would have to be answered. Now Kenneth P. Vogel at The Politico takes a look:
Mike Huckabee accepted more than 90 gifts from 21 Arkansans he appointed to state posts during his decade as governor, a Politico analysis of state public records found.
Since he set his sights on the White House, those supporters, their families and their companies have kept on giving. They contributed nearly $161,000 to a pre-presidential campaign account and Huckabee’s official campaign committee since late last year, according to state and federal campaign finance records.
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Still, his annual hauls were attention-grabbing. In one year, the value of the gifts given to Huckabee amounted to more than $112,000 — nearly double his $67,000 state salary. And he wrangled with the state Ethics Commission over gift rules, with the commission twice finding he’d broken them (one violation was later overturned).
Huckabee twice sued the commission, once seeking a statute of limitations on ethics complaints and in another suit he sought to narrow the scope of prohibited gifts. Ironically, he was represented before the ethics commission by Crass and one other lawyer who in 1998 donated their services — as gifts.
Read the whole report at the link above, including a link to the source documents. Even if all these gifts and favors turned out to comply with the law and whatever passes for “ethical standards” in Arkansas, can anyone argue it is appropriate for an elected official to benefit from such “generosity” while serving the public?
Legal or not, ethical or not, Huckabee was clearly feathering his own nest luxuriously in public office. At some point, the evangelical voters who comprise the bulk of his support will have to remember to “Judge them not by their words by by their deeds; by their deeds you shall know them.”