Arkansas first lady receives $6,000 to talk about trailers

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

The Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The governor's wife was paid about $6,000 by two housing trade groups to speak about the first family's decision to move into a triplewide trailer while their mansion was being renovated.

The Arlington, Va.-based Manufactured Housing Institute and Illinois Manufactured Housing Association said they each gave Janet Huckabee an honoraria of about $3,000 to address their members last year.

Both groups deny the money was payback for the free publicity she generated for their industry.

Janet Huckabee did not return telephone calls Tuesday.

Gov. Mike Huckabee and his family moved into the 2,100-square-foot triplewide in August 2000 for 16 months and were featured on television and in The Economist and The New York Times.

"I said we were going to get national publicity. I encouraged it," Janet Huckabee told Modern Homes, the institute's trade magazine in November.

Huckabee disclosed the payments to his wife on his 2001 statement of financial interest.

Graham Sloan, executive director of the Arkansas Ethics Commission, said no state law prohibited the governor's wife from accepting speaking fees.

The Housing Institute paid her about $3,000 plus travel expenses to speak in February 2001 in Washington, D.C., said spokesman Bruce Savage.

"There was no quid pro quo here," Savage said. "It was a minuscule amount when you consider people are making hundreds of thousands of dollars for speaking."

The Illinois-based association paid her to address its annual meeting.

"I doubt very much that the $3,000 -- after she pays taxes on it and the inconvenience of coming to Springfield -- was a great payday," said Peter Weber, the association's executive director.

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