by Max Brantley
Asa Hutchinson did a masterful job in his financial reporting yesterday. By seeming to reveal more than required about a couple of speaking fees and a little gift, he adroitly managed to divert attention from the real meat of the report. The meat: the sweetheart deals he's struck with would-be security contractors and others by selling them his name. His name had value because he worked in these companies' potential vineyards as a top government official and presumably still has lucrative contacts in that realm.
He made more than $12,500 from, among others, the lobbying/law firm of Venable LLP, GUI Security Solutions of Carrolton, Texas, and Saflink Corp. of Bellevue, Wash. How much more than that did he earn? For what, exactly? What government interests/business/links do these sources of income represent?
He also listed holdings worth more than $12,500 in Fortress America Acquisition Corp., one of his penny stock gambles trading on his former government job. How much business is it doing? How much is this stock grant really worth? He reports holdings of lesser value in GUI and Saflink.
If Hutchinson wants to follow through with his boast of full disclosure, he'll talk in more detail about these little items.
Opponent Mike Beebe's financial report, by contrast, seemed positively old-school Republican -- assets consisting mostly of bonds, money market funds and insurance. No penny stock deals reflected there. It is true that some of those Beebe assets piled up as he received income from a law firm that benefitted from business with major companies acutely interested in matters coincidentally under discussion in the legislative halls where Beebe toiled as a senator. Let there be more discussion of this, too.