Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson's slap on the wrist UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 6:03 AM

SLAPPED ON WRIST: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
  • SLAPPED ON WRIST: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning (pay wall) that Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson of Little Rock had settled his self-reported campaign finance violation with the state Ethics Commision. He got a $500 fine and a warning letter, but no criminal prosecution, for the unreported expenditure of at least $2,700 in campaign money on his former girlfriend, Julie McGee. You can't use campaign money to support a mistress, it should go without saying.

McGee pretty well predicted this outcome to me weeks ago. By self-reporting and admitting improper actions, Hutchinson short-circuited an in-depth examination of his campaign spending. It narrowed the focus to $2,700 directly linked to McGee's bank account. He says he did not "authorize" the checks.

JULIE MCGEE: Did ethics investigators hear from her?
  • JULIE MCGEE: Did ethics investigators hear from her?
Absent from the D-G account is an answer to this question: Did the Ethics Commission talk to Julie McGee about this matter and do a full review of Hutchinson campaign expenditures? Or did it simply take Jeremy Hutchinson's word for the core events and buy his story that McGee improperly obtained campaign checks and forged them? She has said he was fully complicit with this and other misuse of campaign resources.

McGee is itching to talk at length about her long and stormy relationship with Hutchinson, which ranges from the police report of her alleged assault of him with a stuffed alligator head to the eviction of her from a River Market condo love nest amid disputes over property in the condo and damage to the premises. Her credibility is not high, having been challenged by, among others, a close relative in various media looks at her time with Hutchinson. McGee has compiled a voluminous record of her time with Hutchinson in phone text and photographs. It is replete with allegations about how Hutchinson managed to support their lifestyle while also supporting a former wife and children. You can see why a full discussion of that in an adversarial proceeding would have been a less desirable option for Hutchinson than surrendering to a quick slap on the wrist by the Ethics Commission and a declaration by him that the subject was closed.

Full disclosure or no, the episode nonetheless delivers a political blow to Hutchinson, who had dreams of higher office in 2014.

Media side note: Stephens Media did groundbreaking reporting on the Hutchinson misdeeds. It was the first to report diversion of campaign money to McGee. The Democrat-Gazette got the break on the resolution of the matter. That might simply be good followup work by the hardworking and comprehensive D-G Capitol bureau. But you have to wonder if Hutchinson gave a headsup to the D-G to build at least a touch of goodwill with the state's largest and most influential news outlet. He's a politician who's definitely in need of some.

UPDATE: Here's the probable cause finding and the letter of warning. This is the only part of the case currently open to the public. 30 days after Hutchinson agreed to the deal, meaning Jan. 28, the investigation on which the probable cause finding was issued will be open to public inspection. We'll know then how deeply his spending and reporting was reviewed. But the documents released so far indicate that they looked only at the two checks Hutchinson self-reported. Did it occur to anyone that these might not have been the only two "oversights" of which the campaign was guilty?

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (38)

Showing 1-38 of 38

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-38 of 38

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation