Our Arkansas Blog reported last week a story developed further Tuesday by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

It was that Gov. Mike Huckabee is using his Hope for America PAC — registered in Virginia, which has no limits on contributions to such committees — to raise money to explore a race for president.

We have his letter trying to solicit contributors of up to $100,000 for prime tables at his Christmas gala Dec. 16 at the Statehouse Convention Center. The PAC is nominally established to promote a healthy living message and, by law, may engage only in state and local politics. Huckabee, however, said he wants to use contributions as “seed money I will use to continue traveling to places like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to see if my vision for our nation resonates with our fellow Americans for 2008.” Those happen to be important early caucus/primary states. If Huckabee operated a straight presidential exploratory PAC, he couldn’t seek corporate money or individual contributions of more than $2,100. His letter noted that his PAC “can take unlimited contributions.”

Gimmegate II

With Huckabee, it’s always better to receive. His final Christmas card as governor, in addition to a family portrait, included a solicitation for money, sort of like the Christmas card you get from your newspaper carrier. Except that Huckabee wanted a minimum $500 for a ticket to his gala (though much more is required for a good table, a copy of his new book and a place in line at his photo session).

Multiple Republican informants tell us that Huckabee used gubernatorial staffers to solicit contributions and said they weren’t bashful in citing past favors done by the governor. Contributors will be disclosed next month.

We hope to find out if anybody took Huckabee up on a proposal to sell “naming rights” for $15,000 to sponsor the after-party at the gala, hosted by Huckabee’s children and featuring the governor’s cover band, Capitol Offense.

Trash talking

Did you hear about First Lady Janet Huckabee at the weigh-in preceding Jermain Taylor’s successful middleweight boxing defense against Kassim Ouma?

A New York Daily News writer was there. Said the article:

“Janet Huckabee, wife of Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, came out to whip up support for the fight even though she was hobbled and walking on a cane because of knee replacement surgery on both legs. Huckabee even engaged in some trash-talking with Ouma.

“ ‘Kassim, you’re a dead duck,’ the First Lady of Arkansas said. ‘Jermain, you promised me a knockout. So you better do just that, son. I’m forewarning you, Kassim.’

"Ouma, who was kidnapped from school and forced to be a child soldier for the Ugandan Army from age 6-19, simply smiled at the First Lady’s attempt to scare him. Ouma said he considered it an honor that Taylor offered to fight him in Taylor’s hometown. "

Taking it to the river

Real estate developers Flake-Kelley have filed plans with the city to build a multi-level townhouse development into the bluff above the Arkansas River just west of the Broadway Bridge. The development would be northeast of the intersection of LaHarpe and Gaines, a location Hank Kelley said would offer residents quick access to grocery and other stores to the west as well as downtown.



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