||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (March 2011)|
|Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration|
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Donnie Marshall|
|Succeeded by||Karen Tandy|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 3rd district
January 3, 1997 – August 6, 2001
|Preceded by||Tim Hutchinson|
|Succeeded by||John Boozman|
|Born||William Asa Hutchinson
December 3, 1950
Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S.
|Alma mater||Bob Jones University
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
William Asa Hutchinson (born December 3, 1950) is a former U.S. Attorney for the Fort Smith-based Western District of Arkansas, U.S. Congressman from the Third District of Arkansas, Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the first Undersecretary for Border & Transportation Security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In 2006, Hutchinson was the Republican candidate for governor of Arkansas and lost to Democrat Mike Beebe, the outgoing state attorney general.
Beebe is term-limited in 2014, and Hutchinson is a candidate again for governor in the forthcoming Republican primary.
Hutchinson is a son of John Malcolm Hutchinson, Sr. (1907–1991) and Coral Hutchinson (1912–1998). He practiced law in Fort Smith for 21 years and handled more than 100 jury trials. It was during this time that he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as U.S. Attorney for the United States Western District of Arkansas. At the age of thirty-one, Hutchinson was the youngest U.S. Attorney in the nation and made national headlines after successfully prosecuting The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord (CSA), a white supremacist organization founded by polygamist James Ellison. The CSA forced a three-day armed stand-off with local, state and federal law enforcement. As U.S. Attorney, Hutchinson put on a flak jacket and personally negotiated a peaceful conclusion to the stand-off.
During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Hutchinson was described as aggressive in his efforts to prosecute criminals. However, there are continuing suspicions regarding his actions surrounding the investigation of pilot and drug smuggler Barry Seal. Hutchinson opened the investigation into Seal but chose not to see the case through to completion when he resigned to run for the Senate. Hutchinson would later be appointed to run the DEA.
In 1986, Hutchinson ran against incumbent Democratic Senator (and former governor) Dale Bumpers. It was a nationally Democratic year, and Hutchinson fared worse than Bumpers' previous challenger in 1980, Little Rock investment banker William P. "Bill" Clark. In 1990, Hutchinson's race against Winston Bryant for Attorney General of Arkansas also ended in defeat, although the race was very tight. After losing that race, Hutchinson became the co-chairman, with Sheffield Nelson, of the Arkansas Republican Party, a position he would hold for five years. During that period, Hutchinson was credited with helping dramatically build the GOP organization in Arkansas by leading the effort to require the state to finance polling stations, which allowed more Republican voters to get to the polls and vote. Hutchinson considered a rematch with Bumpers in 1992 before he deferred to Mike Huckabee, who lost to Bumpers. That same year, Hutchinson's brother, Tim, was elected to Congress in Arkansas' Third District, on the retirement of veteran Republican U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt.
In 1996, when his brother decided not to run for re-election to the House in order to seek the open Senate seat caused by the retirement of Democrat David Pryor, Hutchinson ran for the seat and won. His brother also won his campaign for Senate, and served for one term. Hutchinson, who had at first decided to run for an open seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives from Sebastian County, defeated Ann Henry, a long-time friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Although Henry outspent Hutchinson during the campaign, the district's heavy Republican tilt and his brother Tim's presence atop the ballot allowed Asa to win with 55 percent of the vote--to date, the last remotely competitive race in the Third District. Hutchinson was re-elected to the House with far less difficulty in 1998, taking 80 percent of the vote against an underfunded Democratic challenger. He was re-elected unopposed in 2000.
In office, Hutchinson compiled a voting record as conservative as that of his brother. He led efforts to crack down on illegal drugs, particularly methamphetamine. Hutchinson also served as one of the managers (prosecutors) during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1998. In 1999, Hutchinson was involved in the effort to reform campaign finance laws and offered an alternative proposal to the bill by Christopher Shays and Marty Meehan, which he opposed on the grounds that it "went too far" because it attempted to ban television commercials by legal third party organizations. Hutchinson did support the bill by John McCain and Russ Feingold in the Senate. He also attempted, unsuccessfully, to modify the civil asset forfeiture reform bill that sought to prevent police abuse of its power to seize private property on mere suspicion of being linked to any criminal investigation. His amendment, allegedly, would have empowered the police to continue profiting from drug money.
After being re-elected to his third term in Congress in November 2000, Hutchinson was appointed Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2001. Washington Post columnist David Broder praised Hutchinson's appointment, writing: "The high esteem in which former Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas is held by his colleagues was demonstrated by the 98-1 Senate vote confirming him last month as the new director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Even more telling was the fact that Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and an ardent opponent of the impeachment of President Clinton, appeared at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to praise Hutchinson, who had been one of the Republican House managers presenting the case against Clinton to the full Senate. In his 4 1/2 years in the House, Hutchinson, a former U.S. Attorney, earned an estimable reputation as a thoughtful conservative and, as liberals like Conyers and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont affirmed, as a fair-minded advocate."
Broder, however, questioned the effectiveness of the traditional approach to the war on drugs and called for a new direction. During his tenure at the DEA, Hutchinson led a re-evaluation of the DEA's mission and resources, concluding that too many resources were focused on 1980s-era drug enforcement priorities. Hutchinson called greater attention to newly emergent drug threats such as methamphetamine in rural America, ecstasy among youth, and predatory drugs (also known as date rape drugs). He also lobbied for greater investments in prevention and treatment. He particularly focused on using drug treatment courts as a way to help non-violent drug offenders beat addiction. Despite the official position of the DEA, which raided numerous medical marijuana establishments during his tenure, in 2011, Hutchinson supported the right to use medical marijuana in a debate at the University of Arkansas when he said "I think that if there is a medical need and the doctors say you need a particular substance — whether it is Marinol or marijuana or whatever — if the doctor or medical community says that, then patients ought to be able to get that."
After the September 11 attacks, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). President George W. Bush tapped Hutchinson to lead the Border and Transportation Security Directorate, the largest division of the DHS, with more than 110,000 employees. Hutchinson was confirmed by unanimous consent by the Senate on 23 January 2003. Later, during his campaign for Governor of Arkansas, Hutchinson's opponent attempted to portray him as mishandling immigration issues. Hutchinson's critics particularly focused on his efforts to limit the Border Patrol to patrolling the border and stopping illegal immigrants from crossing the border, while giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sole responsibility for removing aliens already in the country.
While serving as Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security in the Bush Administration, Hutchinson supported Bush's proposals to provide more job opportunities for illegal aliens without criminal records, while tightening security on the border. In September 2004, he said: "Eliminating the fear of deportation will be an incentive." In his written response to Senate questions, Hutchinson also said "Undocumented aliens will tell you they often have trouble sleeping at night, and leaving for work each day, not knowing if they will make it home at the end of the day." Hutchinson also said that Americans are not willing to put in the resources that would be required to remove the estimated 12 million or more population of illegal immigrants. In that same testimony, Hutchinson emphasized that any debate over immigration reform must start first with enforcement of immigration laws and border security, asserting, "You have to start with the proposition that in order to be effective in the war against terrorism our nation must be able to secure its borders."
Hutchinson was also careful to temper his support for Bush's Temporary Worker Proposal with a call for strengthening security first. In his testimony, he asserted:
The necessary elements to tackle this enormous problem [of illegal immigration] effectively are: (1) Increasing the funding of technology and security personnel along the border, (2) Making it more difficult for illegal aliens to get jobs in this country, and (3) providing a workable and practical means for migrant workers to meet the job needs in this country when those jobs cannot be filled otherwise. When, and only when, these security measures are established then it is appropriate to begin a conversation on providing a temporary legal status to the eight million illegal workers already in this country. It is a significant security vulnerability to allow such a large population live and work anonymously in our communities, with no legal identities or other common connections to society. It is, in fact, a terrorist's dream. Moreover, any legal status should be a temporary work permit with a point of return to the alien's home country."
2006 Governor's race
Shortly after his return to Arkansas, Hutchinson announced his intention to run for governor in 2006. Initially, Hutchinson was to face three-term Lieutenant Governor Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who was favored in most pre-election polls, in the Republican primary. However, Rockefeller's withdrawal and death from a blood disorder in early 2006 led to Hutchinson winning the primary. He was defeated in the general election by the Democratic candidate, then-Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe.
The Constitution Project's Guantanamo Task Force
Hutchinson agreed to serve on The Constitution Project's Guantanamo Task Force in December 2010. He told the Associated Press he agreed to join the task force because he believed it was "something important for our national security and our war on terrorism."
NRA "National School Shield Initiative" Task Force
In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association (NRA) assembled a task force of experts in homeland security, law enforcement training, and school safety to review school security standards in select areas of the country. The goal of the task force was to come up with a comprehensive plan to address the safety of children in schools and to prevent such shootings in the future. Hutchinson served as the leader of the task force.
2014 Governor's race
In early 2005, Hutchinson founded a consulting firm, Hutchinson Group, LLC with partners Betty Guhman and Kirk Tompkins, in Little Rock and accepted a contract for a one-year position with Venable LLP in Washington, D.C., as the chair of its Homeland Security practice. Hutchinson ended his contract with Venable LLP in March 2006 to focus on his gubernatorial campaign and his consulting firm in Little Rock. In January 2007, Hutchinson rejoined Venable.
In June 2006, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that Hutchinson's $2,800 investment in Fortress America Acquisition Corporation, a company that Hutchinson advises, was worth over a million dollars after the initial public offering. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette story noted that Hutchinson is unable to touch his stock for another two years. The six founding shareholders in Fortress America besides Hutchinson include: former U.S. Representative Tom McMillen of Maryland, former U.S. Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and a private-equity firm that has former CIA Director James Woolsey, among its partners.
On 4 May 2006, Hutchinson filed a financial disclosure form, which he was required to submit as candidate for governor, that did not include the Fortress American holdings. On the form, Hutchinson listed his stock and options in two other companies, and even disclosed bank and credit-union accounts with balances under $1,000. He did not list his 200,000 shares in Fortress America, which were trading at about $5 per share. "Just totally an oversight," Hutchinson said when questioned by the media. Hutchinson filed an amended report the next day to correct the error.
Asa Hutchinson's older brother, Tim, preceded him as U.S. Representative from Arkansas's Third Congressional District and served one term as a United States Senator from Arkansas from 1997–2003, being defeated for a second term by then-Arkansas Attorney General Mark Pryor, a Democrat, in 2002. Asa and Tim Hutchinson are both graduates of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina from the Class of 1972. His identical twin nephews, Jeremy and Timothy Chad Hutchinson, sons of Tim Hutchinson, were the first twins to serve alongside each other in the Arkansas General Assembly, both as members of the House of Representatives. Hutchinson is the brother-in-law of former Arkansas state Senator Kim Hendren who in 1958 married his sister, Marylea Hutchinson. Arkansas District 2 State Senator Jim Hendren of Sulphur Springs is Hutchinson's nephew. e
- Leveritt, Mara (2001-05-25). "Asa and me". Arkansas Times. Archived from the original on 2001-06-04. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- Tapper, Jake (1999-10-12). "The conversion of Asa Hutchinson". Salon. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
- NDSN (Summer 1999). "US House Approves Civil Forfeiture Reform Bill". National Drug Strategy Network. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
- [dead link]
- "Did Bush-Era DEA Head Endorse Medical Marijuana?". The Weed Blog. 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
- "Immigration plan envisions 'incentives' to illegal aliens". Washington Times. 2004-08-10. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
- [dead link]
- "Task Force members". The Constitution Project. 2010-12-17. Archived from the original on 2010-12-18. Retrieved 2010-10-.
- "Task Force on Detainee Treatment Launched". The Constitution Project. 2010-12-17. Archived from the original on 2010-12-18.
- "Think tank plans study of how US treats detainees". Wall Street Journal. 2010-12-17. Archived from the original on 2010-12-18. "Former FBI Director William Sessions, former Arkansas U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, a retired Army general and a retired appeals court judge in Washington are among 11 people selected for a task force that will meet for the first time in early January, said Virginia Sloan, a lawyer and president of The Constitution Project."
- NRA "school safety" plan calls for trained, armed school staff. CBS News. Published: 2 April 2013.
- TITLE. Associated Press (via Orange County Register). Published: 2 April 2013.
- Lawrence O’Donnell Prosecutes NRA Spokesperson Asa Hutchinson To The Hilt (VIDEO). The Big Slice. Published: 2 April 2013.
- Brantley, Max (May 17, 2013). "Davy Carter won't make race for governor". Arkansas Times. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "Hendren, Jim Paul". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
- Asa Hutchinson for Governor
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Hutchinson Group consulting site
- KFI-AM interview after Hutchinson stops illegal immigrant roundups by US Border Patrol (Requires WMP or equivalent)
- Paper, Plastic, or Republican: One Race That's Not in the Bag, by William Booth, November 6, 2006, Washington Post
- Hutchinson is a contributor to Security Debrief, a blog of homeland security news and analysis
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Arkansas
|Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 3rd congressional district
|Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration