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First lady lands job

Janet Huckabee joins up with Kim Hanke.

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Arkansas First Lady Janet Huckabee took a job outside the home two or three weeks ago. She has gone to work for Hanke Brothers Siding and Windows, company president Kim Hanke confirmed Thursday. Mrs. Huckabee had not held regular employment since moving to Little Rock after her husband rose to the governor's office more than eight years ago, though she's kept up a busy round of official activities. She did receive speaking fees several years go from the manufactured housing industry for a speech she gave after agreeing to place a mobile home on the Governor's Mansion grounds while the Mansion was being renovated. Since moving to Little Rock, she also completed work on a B.S. degree in organizational management from John Brown University. While a Texarkana resident, she worked at a local hospital. “She is in charge of the marketing department,” Hanke said in a telephone interview. “Mainly her function is customer relations. It is important for us to make a positive first impression with potential clients, and Janet is largely responsible for directing those efforts.” Hanke said that Huckabee has a “chair she calls her own” in the company’s office outside of Hot Springs. However, she does not necessarily keep to a regular schedule. “There are times when she has obligations to fulfill as first lady,” Hanke said, later adding, “She wouldn’t be fired if she didn’t put in a 40-hour week.” Hanke would not disclose Huckabee’s salary, citing a general policy against discussing how much he pays his employees. Her income will have to be reported in general terms on the governor's annual statement of financial interests, but not until January 2006 because she went to work in calendar 2005. “I did not hire Janet because her last name is Huckabee,” Hanke said. “I hired her because she is totally qualified, highly organized, and she has a tremendous work ethic. Plus I needed the position filled very badly.” Hanke added that Huckabee is “doing a great job,” although he wouldn’t go into detail about her day-to-day work. “She is not out there selling siding – or windows or gutters,” Hanke said. “She is mainly working out of the office.” The Times also asked Hanke about his own political leanings. He's frequently mentioned as a potential candidate, including, lately, as a possible contender for U.S. Senate. He would start with great name recognition thanks to his heavy TV advertising. “For many years, the Republican Party has encouraged me to run for statewide office. That is probably where that came from. I have listened and considered those possibilities. But my business is growing, and I don’t see a way I could serve the state of Arkansas and focus on my business and take care of my clients. So the idea that I am considering a run for Senate simply isn’t true. Now that doesn’t mean that down the road sometime I wouldn’t consider a political career.” Mrs. Huckabee doesn't speak to the Arkansas Times. After the Times broke the story of her employment, the Associated Press followed the story. You can read it's account here.

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