Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's political action committee, Huck Pac, is undergoing a "restructuring," Executive Director Sarah Huckabee said Wednesday.
The restructuring includes the loss of at least one longtime Huckabee aide, Wendy Dooley; the apparent disappearance as a separate entity of the Vertical Politics Institute, a think tank Huckabee formed last year; and the move of VPI's chief to the campaign of Curtis Coleman, a Republican weighing a run against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.
Huck Pac hasn't filed any quarterly financial reports for 2009 with the Federal Election Commission. The political action committee's mission, according to its Web site, is to raise money for "Republican candidates who are passionate advocates for tax reform, a strong national defense, real border security, life, the family, less government, and individual liberty."
Documents filed by the committee with the Federal Election Commission appear to reveal a quadrupling of debt in the last six months of 2008. As of June 30, 2008, Huck Pac reported a debt of $15,000 compared with a debt of $62,293.14 as of Dec. 31, 2008, the latest full report available.
Sarah Huckabee, Mike Huckabee's daughter, said, "We've managed our resources and our team as frugally as possible and we like to be respectful of our donors and the faith they put in us when they give us money. So we've restructured our office but we're not going to stop any activities that we've been doing."
Dooley said her last day of work was July 15. Asked how long she had worked for the former governor, Dooley said she wasn't sure. Asked whether she had quit or been laid off, Dooley said, "I really need to talk to someone before I can answer this."
Sarah Huckabee said Huck Pac wasn't necessarily laying off anyone, but asked specifically about Dooley, Sarah Huckabee acknowledged Dooley had been laid off.
Lauren Huckabee, who is married to Mike Huckabee's son, David, had operated the Vertical Politics Institute. Mike Huckabee said in August 2008 that the institute would study issues that he had brought up in his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP nomination for president. The think tank had its own Web site for a time, www.verticalpoliticsinstitute.com, but that site now links directly to Mike Huckabee's catch-all site, www.mikehuckabee.com.
Lauren Huckabee said the institute still existed and she had "just decided to move on and help Mr. Coleman." Coleman, CEO of Safe Foods Corp. of North Little Rock, said Lauren Huckabee started working as the chief of staff of his exploratory committee on July 1. Safe Foods and Huck Pac lease space in the same building in the NorthShore Business Park in North Little Rock.
Sarah Huckabee also said VPI still existed but that "we're trying to put a focus right now on Huck Pac. It's a very important time for us to focus on candidate election right now. My dad's extremely busy. He's only got so much time and there's very little of him to go around these days, so we're trying to put all of our focus right now on Huck Pac."
Sarah Huckabee declined to address directly questions about Huck Pac's finances. "It's an off-election year. A lot of times these things come in cycles, and you're more than welcome to look at our FEC reports and make of that what you will."
The report for the six-month period ending June 30, 2008, showed total contributions of $394,425.87. The 2008 year-end report showed $817,205.19 in total contributions. However, cash on hand declined significantly from June 30, 2008, compared with Dec. 31, 2008, from $201,587.21 to $80,089.03.
The reports indicate that, in 2008, Sarah Huckabee was being paid a monthly salary of $4,500.