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Friday, November 03, 2006 

Hutchinson: A Simple Question for Beebe On Nick Wilson Scandal

From the Asa campaign:

Why Did Beebe Vote to Override Governor's Veto?

Jonesboro – Asa Hutchinson, the 2006 Republican nominee for Arkansas Governor, today contested Democrat Mike Beebe's claims that he stood against former Arkansas Sen. Nick Wilson in a wide-ranging corruption scandal – questioning why Beebe voted to allow the scandal to move forward in 1997 in spite of warning signs from Gov. Mike Huckabee.

On a visit to Jonesboro, Hutchinson discussed the government corruption scandal surrounding disgraced Sen. Nick Wilson, who along with several colleagues defrauded the state of millions of dollars in the 1990's through an elaborate legislative scheme to funnel taxpayer dollars into their own pockets.

He noted that Beebe, as a state Senator, had voted in 1997 to override Gov. Mike Huckabee's veto of legislation that created the scheme used by Wilson to defraud the state. Huckabee vetoed the legislation in April 1997 -- saying this week that the bill "smelled to high heaven" -- but the Legislature voted to override his veto days later, with Beebe's support.

"Beebe claims today that he 'did all he could to oppose Nick Wilson, but the facts don't support his claim," Hutchinson said. "When Gov. Huckabee vetoed the bill, Beebe joined with Wilson to override that veto and give Wilson the free rein he needed to steal from the children of this state.

"So there's a very simple question for Mike Beebe: Why did he vote to override Gov. Huckabee's veto, and the warning signs surrounding Nick Wilson's scheme, if he was doing all he could to oppose Wilson?" Hutchinson asked. "The warning signs indicated that this legislation was corrupt from the beginning. Gov. Huckabee certainly recognized those signs, saying that the bill sent up 'red flags' for him. Why did Beebe, who was a leader of the Senate and an acknowledged master of legislative process, not pick up on those warning signals? Did he not know what he was voting for? Or was a willing participant in allowing Wilson to move forward with his scam?"

The Wilson scandal has emerged as a flashpoint in the 2006 Governor's campaign as questions have arisen about Beebe's failure of leadership in failing to stop Nick Wilson's machinations, with Hutchinson and Gov. Mike Huckabee questioning Beebe's "revisionist history" of the affair.

Earlier in the week, Beebe demanded that television ads produced by a Little Rock-based independent advocacy group raising questions about his role in the Wilson scandal be pulled from the airwaves. Hutchinson criticized Beebe's "strong arm tactics" in using legal pressure to intimidate Arkansas television stations to force critical ads off the air.

For a timeline of events in the Wilson scandal, click here.

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