Huckabee and his campaign lying about his record

On November 12, 2007, in General, by Neil Stevens

Mike Huckabee and his campaign are lying about his record in order to attempt to discredit the Club for Growth’s revelations about his history of raising taxes in Arkansas.

Chip Saltsman, Mike Huckabee’s campaign manager, says this on the candidate’s web page:

More than 80% of the voters supported a 4-cent tax on diesel fuel to fix the roads. Similarly, the voters approved a 1/8 cent increase in the sales tax to preserve their natural and cultural heritage. The Governor would have violated his oath of office if he did not go with the will of these voters. He did not raise taxes — the people did.

The candidate himself said the same thing on Meet the Press:

Did we raise taxes on fuel? Yes, but 80 percent of the people voted on it because it was on the ballot. So it wasn’t that I raised it. I joined with 80 percent of the people in my state to improve what was the worst road system in the country.

The problem is, it’s just not true.

In 1999, the year in question, Arkansas had three elections, according to the Secretary of State. Two were special election primaries for the state legislature, wtih Democrats voting in District 33 and Republicans voting in District 14. The third issue on the ballot was indeed statewide, however it wasn’t a tax authorization. Rather it was a state highway bond. The one bit of truth is that this bond issue did indeed pass with 79.4% of the vote. Other than that…

Let’s see what the Nevada County Picayune said he had to say about the situation back in 1999 (emphasis added):

Huckabee pointed out this is a bond issue and not a tax issue. No new taxes will be created should this measure be approved by the voters….

The only monies to be committed to the bond issue is the $58 million a year already allocated by the federal government to the interstate maintenance fund and the four-cent diesel fuel tax increase to be paid by the trucking industry, along with state matching funds Arkansas is already required to use for matching federal turnback funds….

Under Huckabee’s plan, the state could dedicate money from the three-cent gasoline tax increase to work on rural highways in the state.

Funny how in 1999 Huckabee was saying that the ballot measure was not a tax hike. The reason he could say this was that it’s true: the taxes had already been passed, with the intent of using them to pay down the bonds if the bonds passed, and to help pay for the road improvements themselves otherwise.

Personally I’m surprised that Huckabee would lie so blatantly about his own record. Maybe it’s just me, but I expected the preacher in the race to be the one who would campaign in the most above board manner. But if we can’t believe what he says on this, how can we believe anything he says to get elected?

Character counts, and if Huckabee is going to lie to me now, there’s no chance I’m going to vote for him in order to let him make himself into a liar on even more issues.

Update: Joe Carter found for us House Bill 1500 from the Arkansas 82nd General Assembly in 1999, the bill that authorized the issuance of the $575 million in highway bonds, and created the ballot measure. Here is a relevant excerpt from page 5:

The bonds shall be general obligations of the State of Arkansas, payable from certain designated revenues and also secured by the full faith and credit of the State of Arkansas, including its general revenues. Pursuant to the Arkansas Highway Financing Act of 1999 (the “Bond Act”), the bonds will be repaid first from: (1) revenues derived from federal highway assistance funding allocated to the State of Arkansas designated as federal highway interstate maintenance funds, and, if needed, that portion of national highway system funds authorized by Commission Minute Order 98-214 adopted September 22, 1998, and (2) revenue derived from the increase in the excise tax levied on distillate special fuels (diesel) pursuant to Section 2 of the “Arkansas Distillate Special Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999” and the “Motor Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999” and transferred to the State Highway and Transportation Department Fund pursuant to Arkansas Code 27-70-207(c) in accordance with Section 4(a) of the “Arkansas Distillate Special Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999” and the “Motor Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999.” To the extent that designated revenues are insufficient to make timely payment of debt service on the bonds, such payment shall be made from the general revenues of the State of Arkansas.

As we can see here, the taxes in question had already been passed, in the acts listed here by name and presumably signed by Governor Huckabee (had he vetoed them, I’m sure we’d have heard about it).

The people did not have the option of rejecting these taxes. They could only choose to endorse the use of those revenues on highway improvement bonds, or not. The claims made by Huckabee and his campaign, that the voters approved these taxes, are still false.


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