Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: The son of former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee killed a dog.
Examples: [Collected via e-mail, January 2008]
Origins: On 11 July 1998, two young men working as counselors at Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, Arkansas, killed a dog at that Boy Scout camp. One of those young men was 19-year-old Clayton Frady of Texarkana and the other David Huckabee, the youngest son of then Governor of Arkansas Michael Dale "Mike" Huckabee. David Huckabee was 17 at the time of the slaying, although he would turn 18 less than two weeks later. Both young men were fired over the
And that is where the undisputed facts of the story leave off. All the rest, including why the dog was killed, how the dog was killed, and whether Governor Huckabee attempted (successfully or otherwise) to forestall investigations into his son's act, is up for grabs and indeed may never be knowable.
While the dog itself is consistently described as a stray that had wandered onto the property, the only further description of it comes from Marcal Young, scout executive of the Caddo Area Council that operates the camp where the animal was killed, who said it was "probably a mixed breed."
As to why it was killed, different folks say different things. Governor Huckabee said in 2007 interview conducted by Larry King that, "It was mangy. It looked like it was going to attack." The father of the other young man fired over the dog's slaying said in a 1998 news article that his son had come upon one or more Scouts who had the dog "hung over a limb and choking," so his son helped "put it out of its misery." Scout executive Young said in another 1998 news article that the two young men had told him the dog appeared ill.
No one connected to any of the principals appears to want to talk about how the dog was dispatched — the only person in that group who has said anything about this is Danny Frady, father of Clayton Frady, the other young man involved, and even then he didn't say what his son did, only that when his son came upon the animal, it was being hanged by others.
Anonymous rumors about how the dog was killed say Frady and Huckabee hanged the dog, slit its throat, and stoned it to death.
As to why the young men were fired if what they had done was put a suffering animal out of its misery or struck down a sickly animal that looked like it had been about to attack, Scout executive Young, the person who dismissed them from their jobs, said the pair were fired because they had violated a Scout law: "A Scout is kind."
A December 2007 Newsweek article says that shortly after the animal's death, the local prosecuting attorney wrote a letter to the Arkansas state police asking them to investigate the case to see if the two young men involved had violated state animal-cruelty laws. The state police did not look into the matter, and no charges were filed.
John Bailey, then director of Arkansas's state police, told Newsweek that people in Governor Huckabee's employ (his chief of staff and personal lawyer) leaned on him to write a letter officially denying the local prosecutor's request for an investigation. Says Newsweek: "Bailey, a career officer who had been appointed chief by Huckabee's Democratic predecessor, said he viewed the lawyer's intervention as improper and terminated the conversation." Bailey was fired by Huckabee seven months later, with (according to Bailey) one of the reasons given by Huckabee being that "I couldn't get you to help me with my son when I had that problem." Newsweek quotes I.C. Smith, the former FBI chief in Little Rock as saying "Without question, [Huckabee] was making a conscious attempt to keep the state police from investigating his son."
Governor Huckabee denies using his influence to keep police out of the matter, saying to Larry King: "Well, let me categorically say that is absolutely not true. I never used my influence. In fact, if anything, I said treat it like you would anything else. I don't want special treatment for him or against him. My son was a minor at the time. It was not a criminal issue. It was an issue that was dealt with."
Last updated: 7 January 2008
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