Favorite

On the other hand … 

The Arkansas Ethics Commission voted 5-0 last week to dismiss a complaint I filed against Gov. Mike Huckabee concerning money raised to pay for his inaugural parties in January 2003. The Commission concluded that the Republican Party had properly accounted for the money. Huckabee commented afterward that my complaint was a frivolous, partisan attack. My response? Mansion furniture. Early in the governor's tenure, the Arkansas Times uncovered the fact that the Huckabees had gone on a shopping spree courtesy of a wealthy cotton planter. They acquired $70,000 worth of furnishings for their private quarters at the Governor's Mansion. Huckabee, and his lawyer, asserted that the furniture belonged to the Huckabees. This gift grab created a problem for Huckabee in a later ethics lawsuit. For one thing, the governor's statement of financial interest did not accurately report the source of the gift. After the complications arose, Huckabee and his attorney changed their stories. They said the furniture was not a personal gift to the Huckabee family after all. It was a gift to the state. Now the inaugural fund. Once again, stories appear to have changed. Late last year, news broke of huge money problems at the state Republican Party. At the time, the Republican Party's treasurer, in preparing a 2004 budget, said his figures did not include $60,000 in the governor's inaugural fund. Why? He said Brenda Turner, the governor's chief of staff, controlled the checkbook. The treasurer, Blair Fortner, and the Republican Party's interim finance chairman, Jim Hendren, said they had asked Turner for help with party bills, but the governor's office "indicated that these funds had already been appropriated for other activities." This was the crux of my complaint, filed only after the governor's staff and state party officials repeatedly refused to answer questions. I also filed it only after receiving an assurance from the Commission staff that the complaint didn't seem baseless on its face. I knew from the outset that an old Ethics Commission advisory opinion says a political party may raise money for an inaugural (including the cost of fancy clothes for the First Lady, apparently) and TRANSFER (my emphasis) the surplus for general party use. But if the surplus reverts to the control of a public official, this could amount to an improper gift. To be cleared, Huckabee had to convince the Ethics Commissioners that the surplus inaugural money was not his to control -- despite the public statements by others that indicated otherwise. He had to convince them that the money was then and is now the Republican Party's money. He apparently did that. I'd remind those who cry partisanship that these were Republicans who had indicated the governor's office treated the inaugural fund as its own. Good news from the decision: It's indisputable that the inaugural fund can't be used as a Huckabee slush fund. Plus, if it still contains $60,000, that would be just about enough to repay the college scholarship fund that a former Republican Party employee plundered last year. Since the governor disclaims control of the money, there's no reason somebody can't cut a check to replenish the scholarship fund pronto. Right?
Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Let's vote

    The potential for exciting November elections grew last week with filing of petitions for three ballot initiatives to add to two already cleared by the legislature.
    • Jul 12, 2018
  • Corrupt Arkansas

    Arkansas jail blotters last week added a couple more names of so-called public servants.

    • Jul 5, 2018
  • Who's coming for dinner?

    Thousands of children, stripped from their families at the border, remain hostage to a U.S. government using them to coerce illegal-entry guilty pleas from their parents. The U.S. wants to make criminals of many seeking legal asylum.
    • Jun 28, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Let's vote

    • And while we're at it lets get a vouchers for private schools initiative on the…

    • on July 14, 2018
  • Re: Punishing the poor

    • Then maybe the congress will give up on the unsustainable socialized medical insurance fiasco that…

    • on July 14, 2018
 

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