Ethics Commission to hold Probable Cause Hearing on Gov. Hutchinson

sad asa

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard that Governor Asa Hutchinson is in Cleveland tonight to speak at the GOP convention in support of Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump. Hutchinson, along with other state-level luminaries such as Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, trekked up to the shores of the Cuyahoga River with impunity, in large part because of an earlier Ethics Commission ruling that campaigning on state time for federal candidates was not barred by state law because those candidates were not actually candidates.[footnote]It makes even less sense in print, honestly.[/footnote]

While the other Arkansans in Ohio can take their time getting back after the convention ends Thursday night, however, Gov. Hutchison might want to hurry back. After all, his probable-cause hearing before the Arkansas Ethics Commission is scheduled for 9am on Friday, July 22.

Let’s back up.

In February, I wrote this post about the ethics complaint against Ms. Rutledge and inveterate scofflaw Dennis Milligan’s travel to Iowa to campaign for Mike Huckabee. That post went up on Thursday, February 11.

On Monday, February 15, I got a message from my office:

Asa Call_Redacted

Somewhat intrigued, I called the number and, to my surprise, it was the Governor’s direct line, and he answered the phone himself. Some pleasantries were exchanged and then…

Actually, wait. You don’t need to take my word for how the call went; I have it right here, so you can listen to it.

In case you are unable to listen to the recording, or maybe you just want the Cliff’s Notes version, the long and short of the phone call is that the Governor “followed with interest and read [my] latest treatise on the history of that one law.” The reason for his call was to ask how a governor could comply with the law, given that governors wanted to campaign for candidates who would support the governor’s agenda. Some more choice tidbits from the call:

  • He asked how Bill Clinton could run for President while he was governor, given that the law was in effect at that time. I suggested that maybe no one had raised the issue, but then I also allowed for “some wiggle room” in the statute where it would permit someone to campaign for himself, just not for others. Gov. Hutchinson said you could read the statute that way, but “you could interpret it the other way.”
  • He pointed out that “you had Governor Beebe campaigning for other candidates…just historically, you’ve always done that.” I mentioned, again, that no one had made it an issue before. Also, again, I suggested the people gave some deference to governors in that role because of the importance of the position (unlike, say, State Treasurer). Gov. Hutchinson responded, “yeah, but you’ve raised substantive law issues that makes anyone nervous[.]”
  • “We might need to amend this law. A lot depends on what the Ethics Commission says, but it might need to be clarified.”
  • I pointed out that the unchanged nature of the law since 1915 suggested that, at least in the abstract, everyone seemed to agree that the law was a good idea. Gov. Hutchinson replied, laughing, “shucks, I wouldn’t run for Governor if I thought I was gonna have to keep hours!”
  • Finally, Gov. Hutchinson said they would “follow [the ethics outcome] with interest and try to balance it in the meantime.”

Apparently, by “balance it in the meantime,” he meant “just ignore it entirely.” Two weeks later, on February 29, Gov. Hutchinson went to two campaign events for Sen. Eddie Joe Williams during office hours.

Subsequently, the Ethics Commission dismissed the complaints against Rutledge and Milligan without a hearing, holding that federal candidates were not “candidates” within the meaning of the statute. By extension, then, both myself and our former Attorney General read that to mean that state-level candidates were “candidates.” So, armed with that knowledge, Gov. Hutchinson’s campaign events for Sen. Williams formed the basis of an ethics complaint against the governor, which I filed on March 31.

[gview file=”http://www.bluehogreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2016-03-31-Hutchinson-Ethics-Complaint-Unsigned.pdf”]

In response, Gov. Hutchinson’s spokesman, J.R. Davis, rambled about how “it is the Governor’s expectation that the Ethics Commission not only handle this issue fairly but that it also starts coming down on those who file frivolous complaints in the future.”[footnote]He also made the weird statement that “it is a shame that an important body such as the Ethics Commission is being used for political purposes,” as if every aspect of the Commission was not political from the outset. So maybe logic isn’t Mr. Davis’s strong suit.[/footnote]

Frivolous. [friv-uh-lus] adj. of little or no weight, worth, or importance; not worthy of serious notice.”

It appears that the Ethics Commission does not share Mr. Davis’s opinion about what is and is not frivolous.

[gview file=”http://www.bluehogreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2016-07-12-Hutchinson-Ethics-PC-Hearing-Letter.pdf”]

Ultimately, what you have here–which I hope the Ethics Commission will recognize–is an elected official, learned in the law, who specifically noted that the statute at issue could be a problem for him if he were to campaign for other candidates, who then went out and did exactly that two weeks after the telephone discussion that he and I had on the issue.

They say that ignorance of the law is no excuse, and that’s often true, but at least it is reasonably easy to forgive someone who breaks a law they didn’t know they were breaking. It is much harder to excuse someone’s flouting of a law with full knowledge that he was doing so.

Gov. Hutchinson can point all day long to the actions of past governors, but that is no more a defense than claiming “other people have done it before!” is a defense to driving 60 through Damascus, AR. Or, as the late Chief Justice Jim Hannah once wrote: “Rules are rules for a reason, and they have a purpose.”

 

88 comments for “Ethics Commission to hold Probable Cause Hearing on Gov. Hutchinson

  1. Joshua Wray
    July 21, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I didn’t see the part about the governor in it. I never back pedal, I do admit when I’m wrong, I stand for what I believe in and I dont lie and no I don’t troll liberal sites. This is just the 2nd I’ve every been on. No, I shouldn’t have posted anything when I opened it and seen what this site was. I admit that I do enjoy civil conversations with ppl with differing opinions than mine. That’s one way to learn. With that said, bye. Have a good day and God bless!

  2. Christina Wang
    July 21, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    You totally didn’t see the picture of the governor?
    Yeah. Okay.
    That explains why you went on a tangent complaining about liberals, right?

  3. Carter Thomas
    July 21, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Ha ha, true liberals deflect to non-issues when they can’t stand on facts Brad Scott. Lol

  4. Christina Wang
    July 21, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    It might not stick. But kudos to anyone doing the right thing by holding our politicians accountable.
    Blue hog evidently struck a nerve with conservative trolls so this page must be doing something right.

  5. Joshua Wray
    July 21, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    That didn’t appear in my news feed. Just the logo and the name blue hog. Regardless ma’am it doesn’t matter. I’m done talking about this with you. When you first commented I thought maybe we would have a civil conversation but you seem more interested in insinuations about my intentions and character. Therefore this will be my final response. Hope you have a good evening

  6. Blue Hog Report
    July 21, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    You keep saying you’re done, but then you respond. I don’t think you know what “done” means. Spoiler: it’s the most accurate description of the GOP as a national party.

  7. Christina Wang
    July 21, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    You mean this particular article that you’re trolling on didn’t appear in your newsfeed? You just clicked on the page, commented on the article that you didn’t know was about Governor Asa, read all the comments, and decided to make remarks about the Democratic Party? Yeah. Seems legit.
    Congrats, you’re a troll.
    As I expected you were.

  8. Christina Wang
    July 21, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    You thought you were going to have a civil conversation when you came on this page to mock Dems?
    Read everything you just posted. It’s contradicting. Just like the Republican Party…

  9. Mitchell Wine
    July 21, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Josh has secrets, I’m guessing. Keep typing, Josh, every hint helps.

  10. Maags MacLoch
    July 21, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Just for you, Brad Scott

  11. Maags MacLoch
    July 21, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I have got to save that one, Christina! That’s too funny! :D

  12. Christina Wang
    July 21, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    What facts were stated by Brad?
    He called Hillary a “corrupt bitch” and we are suppose to take that as a fact? We are suppose to take facts from a guy that can’t write a correct sentence, let alone a decent argument?

  13. Joshua Wray
    July 21, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    And thats why I said I was wrong for posting anything. And no I didn’t see the article or picture until I clicked on it…. Blue hog report, you’re right. The gop is probably done as a national party. They don’t know anything about messaging. And yes I know I keep replying. Its a fault of mine.

  14. Mitchell Wine
    July 21, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Hey, admitting you’re wrong sets you significantly (IMO) apart from many hardliners I know. That counts for something in my book. I enjoy commonalities.

  15. Joshua Wray
    July 21, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Michael Wine, we’re all wrong sometimes. Just as well to admit it. How can we learn and grow as a person if we can’t admit our wrongs and faults? My parents taught me this at an early age.

  16. Mitchell Wine
    July 21, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Well, sometimes people are wrong big time, in ways that really hurt vulnerable people. It kinda matters WHEN we’re wrong.

  17. David Porter
    July 21, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Brad Scott “sense”

  18. David Porter
    July 21, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    “Every rule and law possible” would be a very large undertaking.

  19. John Waters
    July 22, 2016 at 2:53 am

    WE’VE GOT AN ETHICS COMMISSION……WHERE THE HELL HAVE THEY BEEN!!!!!!

  20. Brad Scott
    July 22, 2016 at 3:54 am

    The downfall of America besides the failed Obama administration is the iPhone. Spellcheck!!!! I give you credit, if spellcheck puts “since” instead of “sense” you people jump all over it. Funny!!! Comments don’t bother me, so keep them coming. I’m a die hard republican, who voted for Beebe twice cause I thought he was right for the job. The blue hog report is no better than the national enquirer, it goes after selected stories. It’s a liberal rag!!!

  21. Carter Thomas
    July 22, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Christina Wang, if you didn’t already know that Hillary was a corrupt b**** before this thread started, then you are a special kind of stupid. This is a well-documented fact, and has been for many years. Just because you don’t want to see it does that mean that it isn’t true!

  22. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I’m a special kind of stupid?
    Brad and his merry men of trolls like yourself hijacked a post about Governor Asa to talk about Hillary and you’re calling people a “special kind of stupid”.
    Yeah. Whatevs. Y’all lack rational arguments.

  23. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Downfall of America is not knowing how to use your phone, Brad?
    Of course you’re a die hard republican. You’ve already shown that with your lack of knowledge to debate and spelling errors.
    “You’re” and “your” can’t be blamed on autocorrect, btw.
    Nah. You’re just some ignorant republican nut job that can’t handle a “liberal rag” going after Asa.
    Btw- you have yet made any rational argument.

  24. Brad Scott
    July 22, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Hillary Clinton has told more lies than anyone political. Just cause james coney was to much of a pussy to indict doesn’t mean she’s not guilty. If Asa Hutchinson did campaigning on state time who cares!! Then every other politician is guilty too! Your a democrat I rep sect that, I’m tired of working my ass off while democrats want to give my tax dollars to those who don’t deserve it. Let’s see democrats are against ID to vote, why? Cause that’s how you get votes, democrats want gun reform, it’s not the guns fault for shootings, but the scum who did it. Democrats want to give illegals healthcare and amnesty, how about giving them a bus ticket back!! We are bankrupting our country with all of that. Politico had a story the other day that said half of California drivers are illegal immigrants!!!! How in the hell were they ever allowed to get license if they don’t have an American birth certificate???? Cause of people like Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi!!

  25. Brad Scott
    July 22, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Than go after democrats too instead of sitting in a dark room and using your law firm to go after only republican!!! Was there anything on this site about what a corrupt woman Martha Softner was?? I’d like to know.

  26. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Thing is, Carter, I didn’t come on this page to read troll posts from ignorant republicans that can’t spell.
    I came here to read an actual article about what my governor is doing.
    But of course, it didn’t take long for trolls to hijack the thread.
    I guess this is to be expected though. Going on Facebook to read an article and then watching a discussion get hijacked by people that would vote for President Camacho from Idiocracy.
    I’m surprised no one has typed out “Electrolytes! It’s what plants crave.”

  27. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Here. I’ll put it in picture form so that you can understand.

  28. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Brad.
    *Then
    Blue Hog can use his law firm any way he chooses. He can write a blog about anything.
    If you want, you can totes write your own blog. Although, I would use spellcheck more frequently if you choose to do so. (And fact check.)
    If you want to complain about Hillary (or immigrants or gays or whatever pisses off your dumb little mind)- by all means, do it.

  29. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Of course a republican is going to use the work of a liberal’s blog and Facebook page to blast democrats.
    I guess republicans like Brad are too lazy to create their own blog or Facebook page evidently. Instead of working hard on his own page, he is demanding that a liberal Facebook page write false things about Hillary and immigrants. He expects a law firm to do it for him?

  30. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I have still yet heard any rational argument from Brad. Those require facts.
    If you’re going to hijack the thread, I highly recommend using facts.

  31. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Shame on the Blue Hog report for not posting lies and fear mongering! Shame on Blue Hog report for not going after immigrants, gays, the black president, or a presidential candidate with a vagina!
    How dare blue hog report write a blog that doesn’t cater to the conspiracy theorist, right wing nut jobs!
    Benghazi! Emails!
    Black president! Woman presidential candidate! Immigrants! Gays! Guns!
    All of these are irrelevant to the story.
    Write your own fucking blog and stop trying to hijack someone else’s hard work.

  32. Christina Wang
    July 22, 2016 at 10:00 am

    If only Brad had a place where he can post racist and sexist memes, lies, and conspiracy theories….
    Oh wait. He totally has his own Facebook page where he does that.
    Now he expects a liberal blog to do it?
    No. You have places on the Internet where you can go to, Brad.
    Plenty of other Facebook pages and social media sites where others share your backwards opinions.
    Just don’t forget the tin foil hats.

  33. Barry Sellers
    July 22, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Way to go Asa.

  34. Brian Temples
    July 26, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    When I see comments likenthis, I always ask the person to post a list and to support it with evidence that can be verified.
    To date, I have never received a reply other than “look it up yourself…”

  35. Joy Lavionne
    July 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

    It AMAZES me how ‘easily’ people are brainwashed, when information is SO EASILY obtained! Also, how ‘ignorant’ Americans are about how our government WORKS! People, have some self #Dignity and get the FACTS before you embarrass yourself on Social Media!

  36. Morris Moore
    August 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    regardless if you like the man or not, if he broke the law then he should be held accountable

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