Huckabee Says Loan of Private Plane was Contribution to His PAC

JUNE 16, 2006 - Posted at 7:52 a.m. CST

HOT SPRINGS, AR - Governor Huckabee says a flight he took on a private plane is considered an in-kind contribution to his political action committee and doesn't pose a conflict of interest.  The airplane was provided by the director of a youth ranch that has been paid at least $8.5 million through a contract with the state.

A June 2 incident report from an emergency landing the plane made at Chattanooga, Tennessee, lists the plane's owner as Southeastern Asset Management.  Papers filed with the New Hampshire secretary of state last year list Ted Suhl as the company's manager.  Suhl is director of the Lord's Ranch in Warm Springs, a religous-based youth home whose contract with the state is paid through Medicaid.  State taxes provide about 25 percent of Medicaid's budget in Arkansas.

Huckabee said he didn't know the value of the flight, but said it was made as a contribution to his Hope for American political action committee, based in Virginia.  Asked about a conflict of interest, the governor said he was very careful not to mix personal matters with governmental matters.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)