A representative from the Washington Speakers Bureau said Huff has been a frequent speaker and charges $8,000 a speech, plus travel expenses.
Yet the annual financial disclosure forms Huff filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission for 2011, 2012, and 2013, show no money from speaking engagements. The superintendents and chief financial officers of school districts which have budgets of more than $1 million are required to file the disclosure forms and they must be accurate under penalty of perjury.
The disclosure forms have places to list employers, sole proprietorships, general partnerships, joint ventures, stocks, bonds, and other holdings.
Any employers who pay a superintendent more than $1,000 must be listed, an Ethics Commission official told the Turner Report.
Huff lists no extra income of any kind for 2011. In 2012 and 2013, the only mention is of a family business, B&H Developers, McCune, Kansas. The type of business is listed as "rental property."
Huff's connection to the Washington Speakers Bureau was first revealed in the short-lived Joplin Schools Watch blog, which was written by two Joplin High School students. Though I had no connection with the blog, C. J. Huff began creating problems for the blog's authors, including telling parents that their children could cause themselves serious problems in the future if they continued to operate their blog or if they had any connection to me.
Their first scoop was a recorded phone call with the Washington Speakers Bureau, which is included on this post.
The Bureau representative said, "He (Huff) is absolutely active in giving speeches. We have booked him fairly often. He's well-versed in current issues in education and politics."
Asked what Huff charged for his speeches, the woman said, "His fee is $8,000, plus you'll be responsible for travel expenses."
Huff explained his relationship with the Washington Speakers Bureau to Joplin Globe education reporter Emily Younker:
Although Huff is also listed on a national speakers circuit, the Washington Speakers Bureau, he said the organization approached him and asked him to be on its speakers list, and he has had only one speaking engagement through that organization to date.
The Washington Speakers Bureau describes Huff in this fashion:
His wide range of experiences as a classroom teacher, building principal, superintendent and a family farmer prepared him to lead his district of 1,100 employees and 7,700 students through the recovery effort that has followed the devastating Sunday, May 22, 2011 tornado that ripped through the heart of Joplin. Graduation ceremonies for Joplin’s Class of 2011 had just concluded at Missouri Southern State University when the tornado struck around 5:41 p.m. destroying or damaging 10 of the 19 buildings in Huff’s district including the high school and leaving over half of his students without a school to return to on Monday, May 23. The Joplin Schools family suffered loss more precious than the buildings though as they lost a staff member and seven students to the storm.
Huff’s declaration that “We will start school on time” is credited with being a key factor that drew the community of Joplin together just days after the tornado and provided a positive light for the country to rally around in the midst of such tragedy and destruction. To find and create learning space for 4,200 kids—54 percent of the district—in 12 weeks was a daunting task. “Somebody told me it couldn’t be done,” said Huff, “which is all it took to get me going.” On August 17, 2011 Joplin’s 7,700 students started the new school year on time. On May 21, 2012—just one day shy of the one year anniversary of the devastating tornado—President Barack Obama delivered the high school graduation commencement address.
Huff is well-respected by the community and his peers as a man of vision and a man that keeps his word.