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Portraits mark political history, change of guard

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 7, 2013 at 2:39 am •  Published: January 7, 2013

After Spiro Agnew pleaded no contest in a corruption case and was forced to step down as Richard Nixon's vice president, his portrait disappeared for a while from the halls of the Statehouse in Maryland, where's he'd served as governor. The painting's since been rehung.

Many states — Alabama, Mississippi, Oregon and Nevada among them — pay for official portraits with tax dollars. The practice allows them to set some parameters on the end product, such as a uniformity of style and size.

Elsewhere, the cost of roughly $17,000 to $50,000 is covered by private donors. While it may avoid cries of wasted taxpayer dollars, the alternative fundraising isn't without its potholes.

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, an ex-governor of Arkansas, was scolded by the state ethics commission in 2008 for failing to disclose donors to a private fund he had set up to fund his portrait. He eventually was forced to reveal the names.

The fuss has prompted the rare official to decline the honor. Former Mississippi Gov. Bill Allain did just that after serving from 1984 to 1988.

Californians still await a portrait of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose second term ended with the disintegration of his marriage to Maria Shriver after revelations of an extramarital affair and out-of-wedlock child. The actor-bodybuilder is footing the bill himself.


Associated Press writers Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Ark.; Emily Wagster in Jackson, Miss.; Juliet Williams in Sacramento, Calif.; Brian Witte in Annapolis, Md.; Phillip Rawls in Montgomery, Ala.; Sandra Chereb in Carson City, Nev.; and Jonathan J. Cooper in Salem, Ore., contributed to this report.