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Mike Huckabee faces questions on whether he stymied a probe

December 17, 2007 |  3:53 pm

DES MOINES -- Mike Huckabee's image as an "aw, shucks" kind of guy is taking a hit in a story Newsweek is reporting and that has been picked up by the Humane Society Legislative Fund blog.

Citing new reporting and old stories, Newsweek reports that Huckabee's then-17-year-old son was implicated in the torture and hanging of a stray dog while working as a Boy Scout camp counselor in 1998. David Huckabee was fired from the job, but Newsweek reports that Huckabee, then governor, leaned on law enforcement officials to squelch a request by a local prosecutor for investigative help in the case. No charges were ever filed, and Huckabee denied any inappropriate actions.

Animal cruelty is one of those issues that fires up public outrage, and not just among the PETA set. Just ask Michael Vick. Or, to a much, much lesser extent, Mitt Romney. From a political standpoint, this story could be problematic for Huckabee, raising serious questions about his judgment as a chief executive.

If Huckabee did indeed use his position as governor to stymie a criminal investigation into his son, then expect to see some hard questions both from the media and from fellow Republican candidates. And perceptions of abuse of power can be hard to overcome in the voting booth, no matter how many jokes you tell.

-- Scott Martelle

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