A new group, Liberty and Justice for Arkansas, has issued a statement blasting the state of Arkansas for spending a half-million on pamphlets about coronavirus published by a company founded by Mike Huckabee that included erroneous information about mask-wearing.
The group describes itself as non-partisan, but its spokesman is Michael John Gray, the former state Democratic Party chair, and the release includes a litany of criticism of Republican actions in Arkansas.
Liberty and Justice for Arkansas (LJA), a non-partisan Arkansas based organization, calls for an investigation into the spending practices related to federal coronavirus relief dollars. ArkansasEducation Secretary Johnny Key (former Republican State Senator) authorized a $245,000 payment to a company owned by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and then authorized a second of $265,000 payment to this company for an updated or corrected version of the material. This money
came from federal coronavirus relief funds. It is unclear what the process was to choose this material, this vendor, or if there was any oversight as to the disbursement.
The recent revelation that the Arkansas Department of Education has paid former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee half a million dollars to produce pamphlets for Arkansas school children that spread inaccurate information on the use of masks, is just the latest in a long line of questionable practices by Arkansas department heads during the pandemic:
● The early release of the application for emergency loans was sent to select Chamber of Commerce members before it was made available to the public.
● The ongoing failures of the Department of Workforce Services in administering Unemployment benefits. (Many Arkansans have seen eight-hour lines and submitted multiple applications only to still find themselves on a waiting list some twelve (12) months later.
● A Congressional committee singled out Arkansas for distributing less than ten (10) percent of the rent relief dollars allocated to it by the federal government.
● Huckabee’s first sale to the state prompted a second sale for an updated or corrected version.
Governor Hutchinson and Attorney Rutledge should immediately institute an investigation into the practices of these department heads. Why are these vital services not being administered? Why do those with political connections be moved to the front of the line? Moreover, the fact that a second purchase from former Governor Huckabee, to correct his first work, would indicate that the material was not properly vetted in the beginning. It is incumbent on our current leaders to
put politics aside and uncover his behavior that at best is derelict and at worst corrupt.
“It would seem that our state government has had no sense or urgency in using federal dollars to assist working Arkansans. While many of our friends and neighbors wait in lines for food banks, unemployment security, and rent relief; wealthy connected people like former Governor Huckabee are cashing in on the pandemic. The fact that Huckabee’s daughter Sarah Sanders is the current front-runner for the Republican nomination for Governor of Arkansas should not grant him access to the Arkansas Department of Education checkbook.” Michael John Gray, Executive Director of Liberty and Justice Arkansas.