Huckabee Won't Appear With Racist

By Bill Duhart
Philadelphia Tribune, Tuesday, April 12, 1994, page PG

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee [R - Ark.] accepts numerous speaking engagements, but has withdrawn from a program sponsored by a group that also invited a purported white supremacist.

Huckabee said he had cancelled his scheduled speech to the Council of Conservative Citizens luncheon seminar April 16 at the Camelot Hotel. The program also includes a speech by Houston lawyer Kirk Lyons, described by the Nazi-hunting Simon Weisenthal Center as heading an organization that defends white supremacists in trouble with the law.

The Los Angeles-based center also contends that Lyons has been a featured speaker before groups that deny the Holocaust occurred during World War II.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean, asked Huckabee in a letter to "reconsider your sharing the platform with a person promoting racism and bigotry."

Huckabee said he knew nothing of the sponsoring organization or about Lyons. He said that if the Simon Weisenthal Center had contacted him before releasing a letter to the news media that he would have withdrawn from the program. He said the Weisenthal Center has since issued an apology to him.

"I will not have anything to do with a person tied to a supremacist organization," Huckabee said.

When he was contacted about the center's request, he said he had never heard of Lyons.

"But if he is who they say he is and he's going to be on that program, I will not be," Huckabee said. "I will not participate in any program that has racist overtones. I've spent a lifetime fighting racism and anti-Semitism."

The Council of Conservative Citizens' newsletter, The Council Reporter, bears a post office box number in St. Louis, but St. Louis-area directory assistance had no listing for the organization or its president, Samuel Turnipseed, Jr.

A woman who answered the telephone at Lyons' organization -- the CAUSE Foundation -- said Lyons was taking part in a re-enactment of a Confederate Civil War march in Louisiana and would not be available for comment until next week. A message left on an answering machine at a telephone number where it was believed Lyons could be reached was not returned Wednesday.

Huckabee said the invitation to speak at the conservative forum entitled "The Message from Middle America" was one of dozens of speaking requests he receives each week, mostly from civic groups or Republican organizations.

"It's such a rare thing that we have such an organization like this and usually there are people on the program that we know," he said. "This is one we may not have known enough about."

According to the Simon Weisenthal Center, Lyons' organization has defended Fred Leuchter, an engineer who was indicted by German authorities for denying that people were gassed at Auschwitz.

Lyons also has been a featured speaker at conventions sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review, a group that denies that the Nazi Holocaust ever occurred, the center said.

Betty Tate, a spokeswoman for the CAUSE Foundation, described the organization as a civil rights group. She said the organization has defended such white supremacists as Richard Butler and Robert Miles Jr., who she denied were racists.

Ms. Tate said the foundation also has filed a suit against the federal government, "the perpetrators of that holocaust at Waco," on behalf of surviving family members of David Koresh's followers.