Tuesday, April 05, 2011

What Is Huckabee Hiding?

FOIA requests for information from Mike Huckabee's years as governor in Arkansas have revealed a rather troublesome response: the computer hard drives and records were physically destroyed by the outgoing Huckabee administration in anticipation of a run for President.

Those requests were made of his successor, Mike Bebee, who noted that Huckabee destroyed everything ranging from travel records to calendars and call logs, but gave a backup copy to Huckabee's former chief of staff:
In February, Mother Jones wrote to the office of Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe seeking access to a variety of records concerning his predecessor's tenure, including Huckabee's travel records, calendars, call logs, and emails. Beebe's chief legal counsel, Tim Gauger, replied in a letter that "former Governor Huckabee did not leave behind any hard-copies of the types of documents you seek. Moreover, at that time, all of the computers used by former Governor Huckabee and his staff had already been removed from the office and, as we understand it, the hard-drives in those computers had already been 'cleaned' and physically destroyed."

He added, "In short, our office does not possess, does not have access to, and is not the custodian of any of the records you seek."

"Huckabee just absolutely doesn’t trust anybody," says one former high-ranking Arkansas Republican. "In my experience, if you don't trust people, it's because you're not trustworthy."

The person who may know the most about Huckabee's records—or lack of them—is Jim Parsons. A self-described gadfly, Parsons is a former Green Beret turned good-government crusader who has filed dozens of Freedom of Information requests targeting Arkansas politicos on both sides of the aisle, including the Clintons. Shortly after Huckabee left office, Parsons went to battle with the state over his records.

In January 2007, Parsons requested "a copy of all information" on the Huckabee administration's computers the day he left office. Beebe's office provided Parsons with a January 9 memo addressed to Huckabee from the Arkansas Department of Information Systems, reporting that all of the gubernatorial hard drives had been "crushed under the supervision of a designee of [Huckabee's] office." That is, a Huckabee aide had made sure all this information was destroyed.

The memo included another tantalizing piece of information: The information stored on the drives had been saved on a backup, which was handed over to Huckabee's then-chief of staff, Brenda Turner. The history of the Huckabee administration, then, was locked away, under the watchful eye of a former aide. What did she do with this information? Where is it now? Turner, who now runs the PR shop for a Arkansas-based purveyor of Christian-themed greeting cards, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. (Contacted via his political action committee, Huckabee didn't respond to questions about his records.)

Parsons requested the backups and eventually filed a lawsuit against Huckabee and Beebe, alleging that the new governor had siphoned taxpayer money from an emergency fund to pay to replace the destroyed hard drives. Altogether, the new equipment cost over $335,000. Huckabee countered that the information on the hard drives included private details, such as social security numbers, that shouldn’t be released to the public. In the end, Parsons' suit was dismissed—largely because he didn't name Turner, who apparently possessed the records, as a plaintiff.
Why would someone do that if they didn't have something(s) to hide. Given his track record (including giving out pardons to those who didn't deserve it), this should raise more questions about his character and fitness to be a candidate for president.

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