by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today rounded up annual financial disclosure statements of top state officials, including former Gov. Mike Huckabee.
To clear up a couple of points readers noted in a perusal of the story:
1) The report did not mention the 20 or so settings of Governor's Mansioni china and crystal that an official of the Governor's Mansion Association had announced were to be given to Mrs. Huckabee in 2006 as a thank-you for her work on expanding the Mansion and other improvement projects. The gift was reported to be worth an estimated $6,500.
It was announced at a meeting of the Governor's Mansion Association this week that the gift was not made after all. The gift had simply become too complicated because of questions that had been raised from outside. Though members of the Association still believed it was both legal and an appropriate gesture, the group did not want there to be any question that the gift was an improper use of Association money.
2) One of the governor's private business activities, revealed earlier in 2006, apparently hasn't hit paydirt just yet. Among the governor's statement of financial holdings, there was no mention of the interest he was reported in June to have in Flagship Patient Advocates, a new New York-based company that specializes in providing members-only medical services. Huckabee was reported to be a director of the company and holder of an option to exercise 25,000 shares (reduced to 200 later by a reverse stock split). It probably wasn't listed because the worth of the stock currently falls below the minimum $1,000 value at which financial holdings must be reported. The stock traded recently at $1.35 a share. The company's website indicates Huckabee remains a director.
3) The D-G article mentioned no air travel provided by outside sources. He took at least one private jet trip in 2006, aboard an aircraft controlled by the operator of the Lord's Ranch, a residential facility for troubled youth in North Arkansas. At the time, Huckabee said the trip would be treated as a gift to his Hope for America PAC. This was the flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Tennessee, which in turn led to our discovery of the owner of the plane. The PAC reports show one in-kind donation of air travel in 2006, but it doesn't specify the trip. Also, the provider was a different corporate entity than that listed as the owner of the jet in FAA report we reviewed on the troubled flight. Huckabee has declined to answer questions about that flight and its reporting and to say whether he received other private help with air or travel expenses in 2006.
PS -- Baxter Bulletin readers respond unfavorably to a Huckabee presidential candidacy.
And Larry Sabato, the ubiquitous Virginia political analyst, dopes the presidential field.