The state Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign highlights findings from a recent congressional investigation into contracts awarded by the Dept. of Homeland Security, saying it raises questions about Asa Hutchinson‘s ethical conduct.

The report, released Thursday, named the U.S. VISIT project, awarded in part to Saflink, as one of the wasteful contracts under Hutchinson’s watch, raising questions about what terms brought Hutchinson to a seat on Saflink’s board of directors between his leaving DHS on March 1, 2005 and his appointment to the Saflink board of directors March 10, 2005.

Either Asa Hutchinson had to recuse himself from anything involving U.S. VISIT or he could not have started talking with Saflink until March 2, 2005. …

“Since it seems unlikely that those four things could happen that quickly, did Hutchinson get a waiver as he claims to have done for his lobbyist job so that he could negotiate with Saflink and did he recuse himself from the US VISIT project listed in the report released last week if he was negotiating with Saflink?”  Greg Hale, Victory 2006 campaign director, asked.

Full press release after the jump.

UPDATE (8:20 p.m.): Here is the response from Hutchinson’s campaign:

“All of Asa’s dealings with the private sector were approved by the Department of Homeland Security’s ethics department. He had no discussions or negotiations with SAFLINK prior to his departure from DHS. It’s also worth noting that the House Government Reform Committee report the Democrats reference here makes no mention of Asa Hutchinson or SAFLINK.

“So right now, we have one candidate in this race, Asa Hutchinson, who has conducted his dealings aboveboard and in accordance with all laws and guidelines, and one candidate, Mike Beebe, who has actually been cautioned by the state Ethics Commission for abusing his taxpayer-funded office.”

“Every time there are new questions about Mike Beebe’s credibility – whether it’s his use of his Attorney General’s office for political purposes or his double-talk on gay foster parenting – Mike Beebe and his supporters launch another baseless, distorted attack on Asa to distract from their problems.

“The Democrats can’t change the fact that Mike Beebe has a serious credibility problem, but the least they could do is to stop making unfounded charges against Asa.”