More on The Club for Growth’s smear of Mike Huckabee

Mochtar Riady. The Lippo Group. James Riady. BCCI. John Huang. Maria Hsia. Webster Hubbell. The names sound like a roll-call from the Clinton scandals of the ’90’s. It also includes the name of the man described as “the major financier of Bill Clinton’s political career;” Arkansas billionaire Jack Stephens. According to Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin, “No group raised more money for the Clinton Presidential campaign” than the Stephens Group. ”The list is long. It crosses party lines and international borders. It is a list that has less to do with politics, and more to do with the exercise of raw power. And, at the top of the list is the Stephens family.

In an attempt to understand why the supposedly conservative Club for Growth is determined to destroy the campaign of Mike Huckabee, it is helpful to understand that Jackson Stephens, Jr. (Steve) gets what he wants. So, when Mike Huckabee opposed him in Arkansas, he did what very few had dared to do. In 2002, Huckabee decided to oppose a voter initiative to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries and medicine, an effort that Stephens was helping to fund. Tensions got so bad between the two that Stephens told a local newspaper Huckabee had become a “tax and spender.”

Steve Stephens didn’t get what he wanted, so he decided, it seems, to get political revenge instead.

Not even the sitting President and Vice-President of the United States would stand up to the Stephens family. In a July 19, 1992 campaign speech in Weirton, West Virginia, Al Gore blasted Waste Technologies Industries (WTI), a hazardous waste incinerator project in nearby East Liverpool, Ohio, and a major pet project of Jack Stephens.

“The very idea of putting WTI in a flood plain, it’s just unbelievable to me. I’ll tell you this, a Clinton-Gore administration is going to give you an environmental presidency to deal with these problems. We’ll be on your side for a change,” Gore said. The incinerator’s location — in a minority neighborhood, 100 yards from houses and 400 yards from an elementary school — made it a particularly photogenic instance of the “environmental terrorism” Gore had derided in his book Earth in the Balance.

In December 1992, Vice President-elect Gore asked, “for the safety and health of local residents,” that a General Accounting Office investigation of WTI be conducted before a crucial test burn permit was issued. Yet in March of 1993, after months of reviews and audits, the Clinton EPA opted not to oppose plans to begin commercial operations at the site. Some would call it a triumph of levelheadedness over environmental alarmism — noting that none of the allegations against the WTI site have been confirmed except for an initial, failed test-burn. Others, citing the Clintons’ personal ties to the waste project, are calling it a triumph for Jack Stephens.

Jack Stephens was known to play both sides of the political fence. “In 1991, Jack Stephens contributed $100,000 to the Republican Party for Bush’s presidential campaign, and Stephens Inc. “kicked in another $100,000.” Stephens wife was the Arkansas co-chairman of the Bush for President campaign. He and his wife were hosts to the Inaugural party for President Bush in 1989. In addition, Stephens brokered the deal that allowed the Union Bank of Switzerland (a BCCI-connected bank, that also financed and ultimately owns the WTI incinerator project) to rescue a Harken Energy project that George W. Bush was involved with in 1987. When Harken needed help, Stephens was there. A meeting in Little Rock was set up “between Harken officials and Jack Stephens that produced an unusual rescue plan. Stephens obtained a $25 million cash infusion for Harken from Union Bank of Switzerland, which rarely invested in small American companies.”

Add to the list The Club for CfG has criticized other Republican candidates for their fiscal records, but has only run ads against Mike Huckabee, who has been ticking up in the national polls in recent weeks. reports “the ads had been paid for by a spin-off group called Club for, which files regular disclosures through the Internal Revenue Service. A quick review of those filings showed that the group had taken in no new money in 2007. But in the second half of 2006, a Little Rock neighbor and political rival of Huckabee’s named Jackson T. “Steve” Stephens Jr. had given the group $125,000, including a $50,000 check just days before the 2006 election, when it was too late to spend more on that election.

A member of one of Arkansas’ richest families, Stephens also serves as chairman of Club for, along with his Arkansas business associate, Gary Faulkner. Other than Steve Stephens, only one other six-figure donor to shows up in the 2006 records, John Childs, a secretive, Boston-based financier and longtime Club for Growth funder, who has also given money to Mitt Romney’s campaign.”

Steve Stephens, who served on the Board for The Club for Growth in 2004, and the Stephens family have donated some $1.4 million to the Club for Growth. Stephens has ranked consistently among Club for Growth’s leading donors, according to disclosure filings. In the 2004 election cycle, his $ 800,000 in contributions made him Club for Growth’s No. 1 benefactor, ahead of better-known business figures such as Robert McNair, owner of the Houston Texans, and Richard Scaife of Tribune-Review Publishing.

CfG’s attack-dog, Pat Toomey, understands who the boss is. And the when the boss says “Jump,” Pat Toomey simply asks, “How high?” Toomey is no fool. He understands who pays the bills, and that those who made him, can just as easily break him. The Club for Growth Club touts itself as the inheritor of Ronald Reagan’s “vision of limited government and lower taxes.” Toomey, dismisses the suggestion that his organization have undermined the Republican Party by forcing the national committee to spend money on otherwise safe seats.

Indeed, there is nothing wrong with defending one’s self interest. CfG states that the mission of their PAC is to help elect lawmakers who will vote to enact pro-growth policies in the federal government. I do wonder, however, what the mission of the newly launced 501(c)(4) will be in light of the settlement with the FEC. Perhaps they will truly embrace pro-growth taxation, and do a white paper on The Fair Tax. Until that happens, the Club’s willingness to do the bidding of their largest contributors shows their motives to be suspect, and their tactics less than transparent.

Michael Reagan is known to tell the story of a well known California millionaire who walked into Ronald Reagan’s office while he was governor. He came with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unmarked bills in paper bags and wanted to donate to the cause. Ronald Reagan of course refused which really took the guy back. He wasn’t accustomed to this type of response.

Mike Huckabee also refused to follow the marching orders of power, money and influence. No amount of smear from CfG is going to change that fact.

Sources for this article: WSJ 12/6/91; NYT 3/8/92; American Spectator 10/92, 6/94; Waste Not, 7/97; Cleveland Plain Dealer 8/7/93; Seattle Times 11/6/93; 9/20/07; Columbus Dispatch 6/27/97; American Spectator, 11/96, Free 9/10/99, 9/12/99; WaPo 5/27/97; Fox Newswire 1/22/97

“Emmett”, a commenter who has joined the discussion, has rightly pointed out that my original post did not make the proper distinctions between Jackson (Jack) Stephens who passed away in 2005, and his son Jackson (Steve) Stephens, Jr.

I have edited the original post, and referred to the father as Jack, and the son as Steve. In addition, supplemental text and linkage were added for clarity.

Previous posts:
What is behind Club for Growth’s attack on Mike Huckabee?

Huckabee: Life is good,

Huckabee: The Real Deal

Fred Duncabee vs Rudy McRomney,

Primary Momentum, Mike Huckabee is on the rise

The Dobson Effect

Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Perri Nelson’s Website, Rosemary’s Thoughts, The Midnight Sun, Right Truth, The Populist, Shadowscope, The Amboy Times, Leaning Straight Up, Pursuing Holiness, Adeline and Hazel, third world county, DragonLady’s World, Pirate’s Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Dumb Ox Daily News, Right Voices, Blog @, Adam’s Blog, Cao’s Blog, The Bullwinkle Blog, Big Dog’s Weblog, Conservative Cat, Conservative Thoughts, Allie Is Wired, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, CORSARI D’ITALIA, High Desert Wanderer, The Yankee Sailor, and Gone Hollywood, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Comment posted by More on The Club for Growth’s smear of Mike Huckabee | Political news – democrats republicans socialists greens liberals conservatives
at 11/7/2007 1:18:56 AM

[…] post by Nuke This was written by . Posted on Tuesday, November 6, 2007, at 9:13 pm. Filed under […]

Comment posted by Nuke
at 11/6/2007 11:21:12 PM

Beautiful. Very well said Ian.

Comment posted by Ian from Ann Arbor
at 11/6/2007 10:54:49 PM

Mike Huckabee is an adroit public speaker; he communicates his message in life-like, cogent terms, with compelling examples like the story he told (at the Ames Straw Poll) of what his then-11-yo daughter entered into the “Comments” section of a Visitors Book after visiting the Yad Vashem holocaust museum: “Why didn’t somebody do something?” Very effective.

Huckabee is all about calling his listeners to “do something,” to awaken them to their own empowerment, and summon them to action in order that “Main Street,” and not “Wall Street,” will prevail in guarding the values and beliefs upon which the Republic was founded.

Huckabee puts his listeners at ease, and reassures them, articulating clear concepts in a natural, easy style (no doubt something well-cultivated as a pastor). He’s not as “mechanically-scripted” as Romney, nor angry or demanding, like a Ron Paul, and his large brown eyes, peering through a humble demeanor, draw a striking contrast to a unconvincing, tired-looking Thompson. One can easily imagine sitting comfortably with Mike over a cup of coffee at the Main Street Cafe.

Most importantly, Huckabee convinces many that he is ONE with the FairTax grassroots movement ( ). While many – like Romney, and others, who are invested in the current income tax system – seek to demagog ( ) the well-researched FairTax plan, its acceptance in the professional / academic community ( ) continues to grow. Renown economist Laurence Kotlikoff believes that failure to enact the FairTax – choosing instead to try to “flatten” what he deems to be a non-flattenable income tax system – will eventuate into an irrevocable economic meltdown ( ) because of the hidden aspects of the current system that make political accountability impossible.

Romney’s recent WEAK response to FairTax questioning on “This Week with Geo. Stephanopoulos ( )” drew a sharp contrast between Huckabee and all other presidential front-runners who will not embrace it. Huckabee understands that what’s wrong with the income tax can’t be fixed with “a tap of the hammer, nor a twist of the screwdriver.” That his opponents cling to the destructive Tax Code, the IRS, preserving political power of granting tax favors at continued cost to – and misery of – American families, invigorates his campaign’s raison d’etre.

Of the FairTax, Huckabee asserts that it’s…

• SIMPLE, easy to understand
• EFFICIENT, inexpensive to comply with and doesn’t cause less-than-optimal business decisions for tax minimization purposes
• FAIR, FLAT, and FAMILY FRIENDLY, loophole-free, and everyone pays their share
• LOW TAX RATE is achieved by broad base with no exclusions
• PREDICTABLE, doesn’t change, so financial planning is possible
• UNINTRUSIVE, doesn’t intrude into our personal affairs or limit our liberty
• VISIBLE, not hidden from the public in tax-inflated prices or otherwise
• PRODUCTIVE, rewards – rather than penalizes – work and productivity

A detailed benefits analysis of the plan (from The FairTax Book) explains Huckabee’s ardent advocacy:

• No more tax on income – make as much as you wish
• You receive your full paycheck – no more deductions
• You pay the tax when you buy “at retail” – not “used”
• No more double taxation (e.g. like on current Capital Gains)
• Reduction of “pre-FairTaxed” retail prices by 20%-30%
• Adding bac

Comment posted by Nuke
at 11/6/2007 10:46:59 PM

Preshate the kind words!

Comment posted by dbonhoffer
at 11/6/2007 10:43:06 PM

Great stuff man. You need to try to get a media outlet aware of this stuff. I am sure a pro-huckabee journalist like Janet Folger would be interested in your information. You are going on my blogroll. Thanks for the information.

Comment posted by Nuke
at 11/7/2007 8:19:34 PM

I believe the updated post should clarify.

Comment posted by emmet
at 11/7/2007 2:26:08 PM

Are you saying that Jackson Stephens or Jackson Stephens, Jr is pulling Tommey’s strings?

Jackson Stephens, the dead billionaire, supporter of the tax and spend Huckabee, friend of the Riadys and Webster Hubbell ect., and Jackson Stephens, Jr. are two different people. But you know that.

Comment posted by Nuke
at 11/7/2007 2:09:54 PM

you need to take that up with

The ads had been paid for by a spin-off group called Club for, which files regular disclosures through the Internal Revenue Service. A quick review of those filings showed that the group had taken in no new money in 2007. But in the second half of 2006, a Little Rock neighbor and political rival of Huckabee’s named Jackson T. “Steve” Stephens Jr. had given the group $125,000, including a $50,000 check just days before the 2006 election, when it was too late to spend more on that election. A member of one of Arkansas’ richest families, Stephens also serves as chairman of Club for, along with his Arkansas business associate, Gary Faulkner.

Are you saying that Jr. isn’t pulling Toomey’s strings?
PS: I didn’t know about the 2002 contributions, thanks for the info.
PPS: Your admonition is well-taken. I will post an update to correct the impression that father and son are the same individual.

Comment posted by emmet
at 11/7/2007 2:04:09 PM

Jackson Stephens DIED in July 2005. Once again I admonish you to do your homework.

Additionally, The Stephens Group is listed as a $50,000 DONOR to Huckabee’s 2002 group opposing food sales tax removal. Do your homework. Huckabee’s tax and spend record is why the Club for Growth outs him as a tax and spender.

Comment posted by no2liberals
at 11/8/2007 10:42:04 PM

I checked her site, and without a membership, I can’t listen to the show on her site, and she doesn’t show it as a stand alone transcript.
I will attempt to summarize. She was referencing some statement from CFG criticizing Christian conservatives about who they support…I assume referencing Robertson’s endorsing Rudy. She stated that, based on CGF’s attacks on Mike, that if Christian conservatives were to criticize CFG for being to focused on one issue of taxes(and not the big picture), that CFG would probably tell them to get bent…which is what she thought Christian conservatives should tell CFG for telling them who and what they should support.
Sumpin’ like that. I missed the intro, as it was near the start of her show, and I was checking the traffic report on another station.

Comment posted by Nuke
at 11/8/2007 10:23:12 PM

If you find the link, please post.

Comment posted by no2liberals
at 11/8/2007 1:53:23 PM

Don’t have time for the link, but check out Laura Ingraham’s website for todays show.
She beeyotch slapped CFG for their attacks on Mike.

4 Responses

  1. Key: “In 2002, Huckabee decided to oppose a voter initiative to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries and medicine…”

    Huckabee’s record to date is pretty consistent: he likes taxes. After all, government NEEDS our money to solve problems it creates… or just to poke its nose in where it doesn’t belong.

    Huckabee’s real campaign slogan ought to be those most dreaded words in the English language (because they are what he truly believes, based on his record to date): “I’m from the government; I’m here to help.”

  2. […] several years. It has seemingly become a personal blood feud for Stephens, as previously documented here. Stephens is not above using the CfG imprimatur to campaign against so-called “earmark […]

  3. Obviously I don’t agree, David. But, I do appreciate you dropping by.

  4. […] and whose major contributors include Massachussets financier and Mitt Romney supporter John Childs. Their record of campaign smear and distortion make them a logical ally for the Charlie Ross […]

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