I wrote yesterday about how a lobbying firm that employs the governor’s son, Asa Hutchinson III, and which represents a company in the private prison business, had scheduled a dinner at Arthur’s Wine Cellar in Chenal Valley tonight for members of the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force, a body that includes several legislators, including Judiciary committee chairs Rep. Matthew Shepherd and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, the governor’s nephew.
By being declared a “planned activity” of a governmental body (though this body has no legal authority except advisory), the meeting qualified for free payment of food and drinks by Roberts GR Strategies, the lobbying firm.
I asked Sen. Hutchinson how it came to be that he and Shepherd could declare this a meeting qualifying for free grub.
The inquiry prompted some reconsideration. Wrote the senator:
I just wanted to have the task force members get to know each other since we will be working together so closely and talk amongst ourselves about our individual criminal justice philosophy’s. I think what I am going to do is have the dinner but we each pay for ourselves.
This, and Sen. Dismang’s comment on yet another expense grab by a legislator, are refreshing occurrences in a wasteland too often distinguished by corporate welfare, special interest favoritism and on-the-make pols.
Pay for your own meal. Interesting concept. Non-legislators are familiar with the practice.