Ark business leaders send 'statement in support' of Huckabee LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, under fire for tax hikes he supported as Arkansas' governor, received a letter Wednesday from top business leaders in his home state, supporting his actions during his 10 1/2 years in office. The statement, signed by the head of Alltel Corp., investment firms and the chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., notes improvements in schools and upgraded roadways during Huckabee's tenure. But whether or not the letter serves as an endorsement remains between the lines. The Huckabee campaign said those signing the statement were Alltel CEO Scott Ford; investing house CEO and President Warren A. Stephens of Stephens Inc.; Madison Murphy, former chairman of Murphy Oil Corp.; Tyson chairman John Tyson; and Delta Trust and Banking Corp. chairman French Hill. The statement says Huckabee had faced "unwarranted criticism" over his business record. Leadership can bring "much more to the economic and societal fabric of a community than simply tax revenues," it says. "In our support of Gov. Huckabee's truly conservative, small-government business outlook and his pragmatic, yet compassionate style of governing, we invite you to look past the shallow rhetoric of yet another campaign season to see what we have experienced first hand," the statement reads. While governor, Huckabee advocated a 1/8-cent increase to pay for conservation programs, a $60 million-a-year fuel-tax increase to pay for road construction, and a 1/2-cent sales tax rise. He also allowed a 7/8-cent sales tax increase to go into effect without his signature in 2004, in response to a state Supreme Court order to improve schools. Republican rival Mitt Romney and the anti-tax group Club for Growth have criticized Huckabee for the tax hikes. Stephens' brother, Jackson T. "Steve" Stephens Jr., is a longtime critic of Huckabee and a member of the Club for Growth who has donated $200,000 to the group.