Huckabee strikes again 

You’ve read plenty about how Mike Huckabee, in his last days as governor, rushed to spend up money in his emergency fund on non-emergency purposes, such as a grant to the Red Cross, which employs his wife.

Here’s another state asset spent up by Huckabee – the State Police King Air, his favored method of traveling around the country in style.

Under FAA rules, the 10-seat, twin-engine plane purchased in 1997 for $1.4 million, can fly only so many hours before engines must be overhauled or, finally, replaced. The expert was out of pocket as we went to press on specific numbers, but we’re told by State Police spokesman Bill Sadler that engine use has now reached the point that major refurbishment is necessary. The latest figure on relative use by Huckabee and the police isn’t readily available, but Sadler said Huckabee was responsible for “the lion’s share” of the plane’s use.

The tab

Sadler of the State Police said it will cost $700,000 to $750,000 to overhaul the King Air engines.

The plane only has about 50 hours of flying time left, he said. “We’re trying to save some hours so it could make an emergency flight if necessary and still be legal,” he said.

Sadler said there’s no money in the agency budget currently to pay for the work. The State Police will have to ask for a budget increase to keep the plane flyable. “We have to,” Sadler said.

Heavy use

We’ve documented heavy use of the plane by Huckabee in years past. The most recent accounting, by Seth Blomeley of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, showed that Huckabee piled up 200 hours of flying time on 80 trips on the plane in 2005, more than one trip a week, and 120 hours in 55 trips, still more than one a week, in 2006. Huckabee was criticized because, though he refused to release specifics on the trips, records that were available indicated that some of the trips combined official business with personal political travel, such as to the Republican National Convention. Since becoming governor, the Democrat-Gazette reported, Huckabee put more than 1,500 hours on the plane (at the current estimated cost of $875 an hour that’s worth $1.3 million in travel.) Many states bar use of state planes by governors for political travel.

Gov. Mike Beebe has promised to have a “more transparent” policy on use of the plane, but says he wants to use it when necessary.

Recently, controversy erupted over Huckabee’s destruction of computer hard drives and other equipment, including data stored on a State Police computer at the airplane hangar. The State Police said paper copies of the Huckabee flight records still exit. In previous inspections by the Arkansas Times, we learned they rarely provided a full account of passengers, destinations and purposes of Huckabee trips.

The pipes are calling

The price of copper has made the metal more attractive to thieves, reports in the press have noted. Even plumbing under people’s homes are being pinched: A Little Rock resident reported to police in January that thieves had crawled under her house and removed all the copper plumbing while she was gone. She figured it out when she turned on a tap and nothing came out. She had to replace her plumbing to the tune of $2,000-plus.

An article on the theft in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette omitted the address. In response to many requests we checked the police report: The house is on Monroe Street in Hillcrest. Neighbors might want to lock those crawl spaces.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Special master clears minimum wage initiative

    Special Master Sam Bird said today that the proposed minimum wage initiated act had sufficient valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The Arkansas Supreme Court will review the decision and make the final call.
    • Sep 24, 2018
  • Monday: Open line and the news

    The open line and today's headlines.
    • Sep 24, 2018
  • Special master finds term limits signatures insufficient

    A special master has concluded that petitions to put a term limits amendment on the November ballot were insufficient because 14,810 signatures shouldn't be counted, mostly for discrepancies in complying with a law that applies to paid canvassers.
    • Sep 24, 2018
  • More »

More by Arkansas Times Staff

  • Out in Arkansas podcast episode 14: 'T & A Talk Support Crew with Neighbor Nick'

    Cis Het Neighbor Nick was so moved by Episode 13 he had to pay a visit with notes!! T, N, and A discuss the importance of our “support crews” and how some of the smallest things the larger C community doesn’t think twice about affects the smaller c’s of the community. Thanks for listening!
    • Sep 20, 2018
  • New episode of Rock the Culture podcast: 'Know Your Why'

    Antwan and Charles provide perspective and conversation on the City of Little Rock’s initiative to find jobs for our homeless population, the State Board of Education’s decision to take over the Pine Bluff School District, and Governor Hutchinson’s press conference on Arkansas Works. They also discuss the entrepreneurial mindset with local business owner, Lydia Page.
    • Sep 19, 2018
  • Monday's video and open line

    Today's headlines: State recommends denial of new permit for C and H Hog Farm. A change at the top of Tyson Foods. Medicaid Commission 'alarmed' by lost coverage in Arkansas. Hot Springs agency strikes deal to acquire Preferred Family Healthcare assets.
    • Sep 17, 2018
  • More »

Latest in The Insider

  • All in the family

    Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • 'Circuit breaker' legal

    When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • Church goes to school in Conway

    An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.
    • Jan 23, 2013
  • More »

Most Viewed


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation