According to a report in Newsweek, Mike Huckabee may have abused his power as Governor of Arkansas by hampering a State Police investigation and firing the State Police Director in (possible) political retaliation. Allegedly, Huckabee's Chief of Staff and Personal Attorney "leaned" on the Arkansas State Police Director in order to prevent an investigation involving the former Governor's son (who was accused of hanging and torturing a stray dog while working at a summer camp).
The State Police Director, John Bailey, a career public servant, claims that he stood up to the Governor's people and was fired seven months later. Huckabee claims that Bailey was fired for incompetence. Both Huckabee's Chief of Staff and attorney admit to having met with Bailey, but imply that the nonpartisan State Police Director's investigation was politically motivated.
Why is this relevant? Because in the Bush Administration we've seen several officials punished for putting loyalty to the public interest above loyalty to the President's political interests.
Additionally, the Bush Administration has time and again put the search for political advantage above the search for scientific truth. In July, for example, we blogged about former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who told a congressional committee that "top officials in the Bush administration repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations."
One of the major concerns for Jewish Democrats and everyone who cares about Church-State issues is whether the next President will have the courage to stand up to the special interests that help elect him or her to the White House. These concerns are heightened with Huckabee, Romney, Thompson, McCain, and Giuliani because these candidates have all made efforts to appeal to the most extreme elements of the religious Republican base. As the candidate of the religious right, Mike Huckabee would owe his election to social conservatives, should he find himself victorious in November 2008.
Were this incident in Arkansas to be true -- and Huckabee fired a career civil servant because he refused to serve the Governor's private interests -- it could be a chilling foreshadow to the way a Huckabee Administration would be run. Another notorious incident from Huckabee's past -- in which he set up a gift registry while still in office -- raises similar concerns.
In fairness to Huckabee, he denies improperly using his influence with the State Police to clear his son of animal cruelty. As reporters continue to poor over Huckabee's Arkansas record, more information is likely to come out.
Meanwhile, it is important to keep a keen eye on all the candidates in order to determine if any of them would make the same mistakes as the Bush Administration.