by Max Brantley
Gov. Mike Huckabee has done it again. He has played fast and loose with the law. Here he did it so that he could take the credit for putting money into a cancer research center at UAMS and an endowed chair to benefit the doctor who helped him lose weight.
Now, Stephens Media notes in following Democrat-Gazette reporting on this that a UAMS spokesman says, essentially, that the governor misspoke when he said General Improvement Funds would go to these two projects in the amount of $2 million. No, that money will be paid as authorized by law for the maintenance and expense purposes specified in the law for various college campuses. The UA system internally will shuffle money around to cover Huckabee's "gift."
Obvious questions: Did the universities need money for maintenance or not? And are they hurting for cash -- as a down-on-bended-knees Chancellor John White famously claimed at a legislative meeting -- or are they flush with hidey holes of cash to cover any legal sidesteps The Huckster comes up with for his self-aggrandizement.
In short, this stinks. But it still doesn't stink as bad as selling almost $120 million in bonds to come up with $40 million toward what was described as a $70 million cancer center that now seems likely to cost double that amount.
And the Democrat-Gazette is worried about a car bought outside proper channels at the LR A&P Commission. That's chump change compared to this shell game. And wouldn't you know that the governor, en route to presidential-style enshrinement at OBU (intriguing rumor: that fund-raising to endow The Huckster's sinecure at OBU has been lagging), would be dealing the three-card monte?
Copy and paste the following for the more detailed D-G reporting: