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Thursday, February 09, 2006 

Effort To Bring Asa Down To Beebe's Level Fails

Today’s AP story puts Willett in his place. I wonder why the Dem. Blog didn’t link to this story. Why? Because they know that their claim is ludicrous as this AP story affirms. The Democrats in Arkansas should be ashamed of their leadership pulling Howard Dean stunts. They are trying to take the spotlight off of Mike Beebe because they know as well as every Arkansan, Democrat or Republican, that Mike Beebe needs to answer some questions about what took place in his AG office. Mike has already admitted to holding campaign meetings in offices funded by taxpayers yet he says that is okay. He has admitted to using a state computer to edit a campaign speech, yet he says that was an isolated incident. I wonder how many more “isolated” incidents are going to occur. The Attorney General of Arkansas is charged with upholding ethics laws, but has Mike Beebe been fulfilling that role?


Dems accuse Hutchinson of improper negotiations for lobbying job
By ANDREW DeMILLO Associated Press Writer

LITTLE ROCK (AP) -- Spokesmen for the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Asa Hutchinson say questions raised by Democrats about the candidate's negotiations to go to work at a lobbying firm while he was still with the Department of Homeland Security don't make sense, especially in light of steps Hutchinson took to assure there was no conflict of interest.

Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Jason Willett on Wednesday accused Hutchinson of violating federal laws that generally bar federal officials from negotiating jobs with companies inolved in matters handled by those officials.

"This is millions and millions of taxpayer dollars in the form of federal contracts we are talking about," Willett said. "When exactly did Mr. Hutchinson begin negotiating with which lobbying firm?"

Hutchinson is seeking his party's nomination for governor. Two Democrats are vying in the race for that party's nomination - Attorney General Mike Beebe and North Little Rock businessman and former Clinton administration official Bill Halter.

Wednesday's accusation by Democrats followed Republican criticism of Beebe, including accusations he improperly conducted political business inside the attorney general's office.

Hutchinson campaign manager Chris Battle said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that the accusation was "an effort to bring Asa down to Beebe's level and divert attention from Beebe's troubles."

Hutchinson said last year that he took the position at Venable LLP in Washington because the firm allowed him to make his primary residence in Little Rock and establish his own consulting firm, Hutchinson Security Strategies, in Arkansas.

Hutchinson's campaign called Willett's accusations "nonsensical," and said Hutchinson worked with the Homeland Security Department's legal and ethics team to ensure that he complied with the law. Hutchinson filed a letter stepping aside from any decisions involving Venable, his spokesman said.

"When he entered into discussions with the Venable law firm ... he recused himself from all matters, if any, that the firm may have had before the Department and also filed a letter of recusal with the Department, as is the proper procedure," Hutchinson spokesman David Kinkade said.

The Dec. 23, 2004 letter, to then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge details screening methods Hutchinson said he would use in matters involving Venable and Williams & Jensen, a Washington law firm. Under the arrangement, Hutchinson had a special assistant review all matters involving outside entities to determine whether they involved either firm.
Any issues involving either firm were given to the chief of staff without Hutchinson's knowledge, the letter said.

"We do not have any concerns about his fulfillment of his obligations to recuse himself," Homeland Security press secretary Russ Knocke said Wednesday. "He clearly followed all of the necessary internal protocols."

Hutchinson said he wanted to re-establish his residence in Arkansas at the time he took the Venable job. Later that year, Hutchinson announced that he would run for governor in 2006.

Don't forget paying his campaign staff from his official Attorney General's office.

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