December 07, 2007

Where Do They Find These Guys? Thoughts on the Republican Candidates

When you look at the Republican field, it seems astonishing to realize that the top-tier candidates are unusually sleazy, greedy and generally nasty pieces of work. This is all the more astonishing when you realize that these are the paragons of what that party thinks of as examples of moral rectitude. And the one that is the most moral of all, the ole Southern Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee, definitely can give Guiliani a run for his money for general sleazy using public office for personal gain.

In fact, when you realize that Mike Huckabee is a Southern Baptist minister, it seems like he even gives the Southern Baptist religion a bad name. Just like with the current occupant of the White House, he decided that the reason someone goes into public office is so you can use public money like it was your own.

After he became governor in 1996, he raked in tens of thousands of dollars in gifts, including gifts from people he later appointed to prestigious state commissions.

In the governor's office, his grasp never exceeded his reach. Furniture he'd received to doll up his office was carted out with him when he left, after he'd crushed computer hard drives so nobody could ever get a peek behind the curtain of the Huckabee administration.

Until my paper, the Arkansas Times, blew the whistle, he converted a governor's mansion operating account into a personal expense account, claiming public money for a doghouse, dry-cleaning bills, panty hose and meals at Taco Bell. He tried to claim $70,000 in furnishings provided by a wealthy cotton grower for the private part of the residence as his own, until he learned ethics rules prevented it. When a disgruntled former employee disclosed memos revealing all this, the Huckabee camp shut her up by repeatedly suggesting she might be vulnerable to prosecution for theft because she'd shared documents generated by the state's highest official.

He ran the State Police airplane into the ground, many of the miles in pursuit of political ends. Inauguration funds were used to buy clothing for his wife. He once took control of the state Republican Party's campaign account -- then swore the account had been somebody else's responsibility when it ran afoul of federal election laws. He repeated the pattern when he claimed in a newspaper story that his staff controlled the account to stage his second inauguration. When I filed a formal ethics complaint over what appeared to be an improper appropriation of donated money, he told a different story, disavowing responsibility for the money. He thus avoided another punishment from an Ethics Commission, which had sanctioned him on five other occasions. He dodged nine other complaints (though none, despite his counter-complaints, was held to be frivolous). In one case, he was saved by the swing vote of a woman who left the chairmanship of the Ethics Commission days later to take a state job. She listed the governor as a reference on the job application. Finally, unbelievably, Huckabee once sued to overturn the ban on gifts to him.

And that is the guy who the Christian Right thinks is best suited to be the moral leader this country needs. What a slime ball. Thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by Mary at December 7, 2007 10:24 PM | US Politics | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

I'll bet that if Huckabee becomes the front-runner, there won't be a left-wing Arkansas Project to dig up dirt on him and spread it through the "liberal" media. If I were looking for integrity in a leader, I would be SOL with the current Republican field for sure.

Posted by: Charley at December 8, 2007 06:24 AM