Mike Huckabee's sordid leave-taking as governor gets a good review by the Arkansas Leader's editorial page. "Huck picks our pocket," the headline reads.
This reminds us that we learned yesterday of another small outrage, petty his shrinking band of defenders will argue unless you think laws have meaning.
Among the other mice droppings of his administration that Huckabee endeavored to remove were all the files maintained by Don Bingham as administrator of the Governor's Mansion. We've belabored this point before. Bingham was, by law, not an employee of the Governor's office. Expenditures at the Mansion are part of a separate budget. Some of his work was to serve as record-keeper for the non-profit Governor's Mansion Association, which works to maintain the mansion (and buy thousands of dollars worth of china and crystal for Janet Huckabee). Our reporter was told that all traces of Bingham's records are gone. There are no records remaining of his publicly financed work for the Association, which rightly should be public records, or anything pertaining to operation of Mansion operation and spending, also pubic records. Presumably, the governor claims these as his "working papers." They are not. But absent someone with deep pockets to challenge his contempt for the law, this will join a long list of instances in which The Huckster has substituted his convenience and need for secrecy for his public obligations.
ALSO: There's a good editorial in the Benton County Daily Record on Huckabee's "scorched earth" departure. It's forward looking, about taking steps to preserve proper use of emergency funds and disposition of office equipment. We should add that the Arkansas law is woefully lacking in the wide discretion it gives a governor over the papers his or her office amasses. Even in Texas, those papers become property of the state and open to public inspection within 10 days after they leave office. (Bush the younger tried to sidestep this by hiding his papers in his father's federal library, but failed.)
Copy and paste:
Arkansas lawmakers should focus on making sure that uses of the emergency fund are clearly spelled out and that somebody is paying attention to how the money is being used so surprises like this become a thing of the past. It might also be a good idea to establish rules specifically pertaining to the transfer of electronic records when there’s a change of administration.
In short, Arkansas should fix Arkansas’ problems.
Mike Huckabee, now that he’s set his sights on the White House, no longer falls into that category. More and more, that brings a smile to our faces.