|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
There's a Mike Huckabee mystery that won't go away.
Send a public records request seeking documents from his 12-year stint as Arkansas governor, as Mother Jones did recently, and an eyebrow-raising reply will come back: The records are unavailable, and the computer hard drives that once contained them were erased and physically destroyed by the Huckabee administration as the governor prepared to leave office and launch a presidential bid.
In 2007, during Huckabee's campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, the issue of the eradicated hard drives surfaced briefly, but it was never fully examined, and key questions remain. Why had Huckabee gone to such great lengths to wipe out his own records? What ever happened to a backup collection that was provided to a Huckabee aide?
Huckabee is now considering another presidential run, and if he does enter the race, he would do so as a frontrunner. Which would make the case of the missing records all the more significant. These records would shed light on Huckabee's governorship—and could provide insight into how a President Huckabee might run the country. Meanwhile, observers of Arkansas' political scene—including one of Huckabee's former GOP allies—say the episode is characteristic of a politician who was distrustful and secretive by nature.
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."
According to data from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, at least 27 state-level voter ID bills -- from Alaska and Arizona to Wisconsin and West Virginia -- have been proposed in recent months.
"It's unbelievable, probably half the states in the country have bills in play and more than a dozen are seriously in the pipeline," Tova Wang of the left-leaning think tank Demos told TPM in an interview. "It's really unprecedented in terms of geographic scope. I've never seen anything like it certainly since I've been working on voting rights issues that voter suppression bills would be introduced in so many places at the same time."
"Definitely students are a target here. It's totally clear to me that you saw in 2008 this unprecedented historic turnout among African-Americans, Latinos and young people -- and those happen to be the exact groups of people that are being targeted by these laws to disenfranchise them, and that's really sad," Wang said.
Wang said the most restrictive bills are in Ohio and Wisconsin, which Wang said require identification issued by the DMV. "Perhaps most interestingly, it doesn't even include student ID even from schools that are public universities," she said.
"This apparently concerted effort on the part of Republicans in state legislatures nationwide to effectively suppress voting is as disturbing as it is un-democratic," said Carolyn Fiddler, spokesperson for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, an arm of the Democratic Party charged with boosting the number of Democrats in state governments. "Additionally, these restrictive measures are often costly and do nothing to balance state budgets and create jobs, which are the top priorities in statehouses across the country right now."