Judge: Huckabee Can Keep Drive Backups

Mike Huckabee Jim Parsons
A judge on Friday rejected part of a lawsuit requesting that Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee turn over backup tapes from computer hard drives he ordered destroyed before leaving the Arkansas governor's office.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox denied Jim Parsons' Freedom of Information Act claim against Huckabee, but did not rule on the rest of Parsons' lawsuit that alleges Huckabee illegally used government money to crush the hard drives - and to help the Mexican government locate a consulate in Little Rock.

During a brief hearing, Parsons, a self-described gadfly from Bella Vista, asked the court to order Huckabee to provide the state backup tapes that held some of the files destroyed when Huckabee left office in January.

Parsons said the state Department of Information Services told him it had given the backup tapes to former Huckabee chief of staff Brenda Turner.

"If the governor is running and campaigning on his record, then we'd like to have his records available to the public," Parsons told the judge.

The judge questioned why Turner wasn't named as a defendant in the lawsuit, and rejected the FOI claim. Parsons' lawyer said afterward it was likely he would try to add Turner as a defendant.

Huckabee has defended destroying the hard drives, saying they contained employee and constituent Social Security numbers and credit card information. Kevin Crass, an attorney for Huckabee, said Friday he was pleased with the judge's ruling.

Last week, Parsons amended his lawsuit to include the allegation that the former governor illegally gave $10,000 from a state emergency fund to the city of Little Rock as it tried to bring a consulate to the city.

The state Ethics Commission has dismissed two complaints that Parsons has filed against Huckabee over the hard drive destruction.