As a presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee made a name for himself as the regular Joe on the debate stage, a threadbare underdog who couldn’t afford his opponents’ Madison Avenue-style commercials, plush hotels and chartered planes. In his campaign memoir, Huckabee proclaimed that he “kept in touch” with ordinary people while eating food-court fare and waiting for long-delayed commercial flights as “other candidates were stepping onto their Gulfstream jets.”
These days, the former Arkansas governor is living — and flying — far more comfortably.
Now a Fox News commentator and highly paid public speaker, Huckabee has in just a few years racked up at least $253,000 in private air travel bills on the way to political events, according to a POLITICO review of federal and state campaign finance records.
Campaigns and political committees have paid the cost of Huckabee’s travel by cutting checks to one of two private companies linked to the politician-turned-TV-commentator: Blue Diamond Travel, a business registered at Huckabee’s Florida address, or the now-defunct MDH Group, an Arkansas entity named for the former governor’s initials.
On 14 occasions, Huckabee’s political action committee has also directly paid for private air travel expenses, reporting $30,000 in disbursements to MDH Group for charter travel to “PAC events” and a dozen additional outlays to chartered air travel companies.
The ethics commission fined Huckabee $1,000 for failing to report that he paid himself $14,000 from his 1992 U.S. Senate campaign and $43,000 from his 1994 lieutenant governor's campaign.
The latter payment — for the use of his eight-seat, twin-engine plane — was reported in a cryptic way that didn’t identify Huckabee and his wife as the owners of the plane.
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