Mike Huckabee has milked almost $3 million from Christian organizations in the past two years
After filing multiple extensions, Mike Huckabee’s Republican presidential campaign finally released its financial disclosures two weeks ago. The disclosures show that Huckabee brought in $2,959,735 from Blue Diamond Horizons, his company set up to manage media and communications work, including speech-making.
Speeches made up the bulk of this income; the former Arkansas governor speaks primarily to far-right Christian organizations. In February 2014, Huckabee gave an address for $24,500 to the Todd Becker Foundation in Kearney, Nebraska. The foundation addresses high school assemblies, blaming the media for promoting sexual activity, alcohol and drug use and even suggesting that these activities lead to school shootings.
Here is the foundation’s promotional video:
The foundation was started by a man whose brother was tragically killed in an alcohol-related vehicular accident, so it’s not surprising that he would view teenage alcohol abuse as a serious problem. The other issues the assemblies deal with, such as sexual promiscuity, seem like the result of Christian right ideology that often gets wrapped in the same message.
It’s a bit more surprising that Huckabee would charge the foundation so much money for his address. In 2013, the foundation had assets of $74,484, down from $103,769 the year before, according to public filings. According to the nonprofit’s website, Huckabee spoke at an annual banquet, which was likely used for fundraising, but it’s curious that he chose to pick up such a large speaking fee rather than doing it for the cause.
He charged Honey Lake Church & Worldwide Ministries less; in March 2014, he took in $20,000 for a speech there. This is no simple mom-and-pop church operation; its founder Bob Williamson has founded 11 businesses, selling his latest company for $75 million in 2008.
The ministry also engages in politics. In a newsletter announcing Huckabee’s speech, it described its mission:
“One of the most ambitious plans of our ministry is to ignite a nationwide movement to do just that. Our purpose is to restore Christian values to our society. We intend to take this country back from radical and often militant groups of radical Muslims, atheists, Gay coalitions, George Soros, Move on.org, NOW, and other liberal progressive organizations that desire to remove every remnant of God from our society and therein destroy it.”
Anti-abortion organizations also paid Huckabee for speeches, including Illinois Right To Life ($16,500), Hope Center ($24,500), Cross Timbers Pregnancy Care Center ($18,000), Arkansas Pregnancy Resource Center ($35,700), and Texas Center for Defense of Life ($24,000).
His most recent address was to a faith-based organization called Rainbow Omega, Inc., which works with adults who have developmental disabilities. The organization’s work is genuinely charitable, though Huckabee still charged it $16,000 for a speech; the event appears to have offered tickets, meaning it was likely a fundraiser.
Not all of Huckabee’s paid gigs were for right-wing Christian organizations. Some were with the right’s other religion, Big Money.
The Mississippi Bankers Association paid him $12,000 for a May 2014 speech in Destin, Florida, the popular tourist resort far from the impoverished Mississippians the association works to economically disenfranchise.
One of Huckabee’s largest payouts was $30,000 from the Salinas Chamber of Commerce in Salina, Kansas (February 2004). Consortium Health Plans in scenic Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. paid him $24,000 in March 2014.
Not every ex-politician cashes out this way. Former president Jimmy Carter, who is now waging a battle against cancer, was a Christian politician who chose not to cash out, but rather mobilized resources to heal the sick and empower the poor. It is a telling contrast with Mike Huckabee.