HUTCHINSON AND LEGAL TEAM: From testimony yesterday, it appears former Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson needs all the legal help he can get. He has five lawyers from New York, Washington and Little Rock on his case. Credit: Brian Chilson

Former Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, the governor’s nephew, took the stand yesterday in the first of two days of hearings in federal court to support his effort to suppress evidence from a computer used in the FBI investigation of his alleged misspending of campaign money and failure to pay income taxes on the misbegotten money.

He’s said to have taken $150,000 and also charged with failing to report $271,000 in income to the IRS. These charges are separate from federal bribery charges in Missouri over taking money for doing legislative work for a major Medicaid recipient, Preferred Family Healthcare.

The coverage in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today was rightly devoted to the bumper crop of testimony elicited by the government to  impeach Hutchinson’s credibility. Hutchinson contends his former girlfriend Julie McGee (she who once whacked Hutchinson with a stuffed alligator head) stole the computer. She contends it’s hers and has ways to prove it. She’ll take the stand in court this morning.

But back to Hutchinson’s impeachment. Some highlights from Linda Satter’s account in the Democrat-Gazette:

  • He signed a bill of sale saying a $22,000 Jeep cost $3,000 so as to reduce the sales tax.
  • He used a loan from one bank as a down payment on a loan with another bank without disclosing the fact.
  • He received $20,000 a month while a senator as a “retainer” from bigshot trial lawyer and UA trustee John Goodson of Texarkana. Why? Not as a bribe, of course. Rather to “assist in class action cases.” Search court records though you might, you won’t find much class action legal work by Jeremy Hutchinson.
  • His ex-wife Stephanie said she’d been instructed to write checks for household expenses from his campaign account. (This should remind people of the toothless state Ethics Commission, which more or less bought the dog-ate-my-homework defense Hutchinson offered in its investigation of his campaign spending.)  When she threatened to report his lies, she said he told her, “Go ahead. Do it. If I go to prison you’ll lose the house.”

If Hutchinson cannot kill the use of the damning computer evidence and the case goes to trial, I’ll hazard a prediction: Young Hutchinson (the name by which he filed for divorce so as to attempt to avoid publicity) will not take the stand in his own defense. What would a jury think of the stuff federal Judge Kristine Baker was treated to yesterday?

PS: Is the FBI interested in John Goodson as Hutchinson testified? Is John Goodson contributing to Jeremy Hutchinson’s legal defense fund, which likely has run up tens of thousands in expenses for this week’s hearing alone? Isn’t it too bad that there’s not a requirement for disclosure of payees to legal defense funds? If Bud Cummins or Tim Hutchinson, who are leading the defense fund, wanted to clean up a Hutchinson image in need of some Windex, it would be a good time for them to come clean.

I’ve sent an e-mail to Goodson, the UA Board chair and estranged husband of Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, asking if the retainer arrangement was accurately described, what legal work Hutchinson had done for him, if he had any knowledge of an FBI investigation and whether he or any party he knew had contributed to Hutchinson’s defense fund. If I get a response, I’ll pass it along.

UPDATE: Goodson denies involvement, defends his arrangement and otherwise answers those questions here.