EDITORIALS>>Huckabee wore out plane
Huckabee used State Police aircraft, primarily a Beechcraft King Air 200 turbo-prop, as his family air force. State Police pilots flew him to the Republican National Convention and to political events around the country to promote his national ambitions. Sometimes they were sandwiched around a quasi-public event.
Altogether, according to an analysis by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette a year ago, he logged some 1,500 hours on the plane. His wife used it often, too.
Now the plane is effectively grounded because it has nearly reached the limit of its airworthy hours under federal law. It will have to be extensively reconditioned if it is to continue flying, and buying a new plane may be safer and more economical.
Beebe says he does not intend to use the plane for anything but official travel — he has made trips to five Arkansas cities since inauguration — but that if he does take it for personal or political travel, he will reimburse the state at commercial rates.
Those terms — and they should be tight — ought to be spelled out in law, along with record-keeping that provides a good audit trail. The records of Huckabee travels do not even list the purpose. Still, he had the hard drive of the State Police computer at the airport crushed when he left office to destroy records on the trips. States that permit governors and other officials to use government craft impose restrictions and record-keeping, and Arkansas taxpayers deserve that much.