Smoke gets in your eyes

Mike Huckabee first came to our attention in terms of presidential politics more than a year ago as the man who had lost 100 pounds. Huckabee, we learned, was using this remarkable personal accomplishment to focus his campaign not on health care but on health. Our source, Joel Mowbray, predicted that, given Huckabee’s personal story and his campaign style, “Rudy, McCain, and Romney might not be alone in the top tier for long.”
This turned out to be a great prediction. But it also turns out, if this Newsweek story (co-written by Michael Isikoff) is correct, that as lieutenant governor of Arkansas Huckabee received tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from a secretive Texas fund that was financed by a major tobacco company looking for help in defeating a possible national cigarette tax. If true, this would cast doubt on Huckabee’s credentials as a wellness crusader.
Newsweek also reports that Huckabee has provided an explanation for his secretive Texas funding that may not be credible. According to Newsweek, Huckabee says he didn’t know that the money he received was coming from tobacco-related sources. Yet, again according to Newsweek, two of the officers who ran the fund say Huckabee’s account is not credible, and one of them, a former Huckabee strategist, says the governor personally met with a tobacco executive about the fund.
I’m no fan of the tobacco industry, but Huckabee’s willingness to accept money from it, even in the context of his focus on wellness, would not strike me as highly problematic in the grand scheme of things. But if Huckabee isn’t telling the truth about this, then his dissembling, coupled with his questionable account of his role in the Wayne Dumond affair, should be a matter of major concern.
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