I noted in the original post discussing the possibility that Huckabee had gastric bypass surgery, that Huckabee had taken the unusual step of allocating $1 million out of general revenue funds to endow a Chair for his diet doctor at UAMS, Dr. Philip Kern. I wasn’t able to find any link to that Chair at UAMS, however. This apparently because the endowment never happened. According to the January 25 Arkansas Times:
Evidently without consulting legislators, his Cabinet, or anyone else who knows something of the law and state budgeting, Huckabee ordered that money appropriated by the legislature for other purposes be given instead to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Under the governor’s plan, the money would have been used for cancer research and the endowment of a faculty position named for a UAMS physician who helped Huckabee lose a considerable amount of weight. The proposed naming was an inordinate show of admiration for the physician. Under Huckabee, things usually got named for him or his wife.
Legislators questioned the legality of Huckabee’s proposal and even Alan Sugg, president of the University of Arkansas System, suggested that it might be best to obtain legislative approval in the session that was only a few days away. Huckabee threw a fit, rescinded the transfer of money to UAMS, ordered that the funds be used for other, non-medical purposes, and assailed Sugg for exercising good judgment. In a letter to the UA president, Huckabee said the money would have been used for “noble and worthy projects” and saved many lives. “But your reluctance to accept these funds due to a small number of legislative detractors makes it necessary to take this action.”
Huckabee’s allocation was so irregular as to have caused problems at the time. If one looks at this uncharitably (as is my wont with Huckabee), he set out to endow the chair for Kern, and to make this singular donation less conspicuous donated another million as well to something as laudable sounding as possible, cancer research.
In my experience, gratitude to physicians for their clinical efforts, which patients too infrequently express, more often manifests in a batch of homemade cookies than it does in a $1 million endowment. That Huckabee’s show of admiration was inordinate begs explanation. A possible explanation is that Huckabee’s gratitude encompassed not only Dr. Kern’s clinical care, but extended as well to Dr. Kern’s provision of his imprimatur to Huckabee’s diet/exercise weight loss story.
Not that Dr. Kern waxed rhapasodic about his most famous patient. Dr Kern sounds somewhat sheepish in a media interview:
Huckabee invited Dr. Phillip Kern to the governor’s mansion. Kern is a professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at the University of Arkansas, and he runs a program for obese people. Kern admitted recently that he was a little uncomfortable taking on such a high-profile patient.
“The fear, I guess, would be that every news outlet in Arkansas certainly would be hyping the fact that Gov. Huckabee lost weight on the University of Arkansas medical sciences weight-loss program,” Kern recalls. “He drops 50 pounds and gains it back just as quickly, and everyone is like, ‘Oh, that program stinks.'”
Kern emphasizes that Huckabee’s result is atypical for his program:
Kern said Huckabee was a model patient.
“Believe it or not, it’s not every day that I have a patient that loses over 100 pounds and starts running marathons,” he said.
Dr. Kern doesn’t sound that comfortable lending his credibility to these events. It is easy to conjecture that Governor Huckabee provided the endowment to assuage Dr. Kern’s discomfiture, and to encourage further participation.
This whole episode might invite further investigation. That will be difficult, seeing as Huckabee had all the Administration’s hard drives destroyed as he left office.