A media head-scratcher this morning: In Noel Oman’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette account of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s news conference Thursday on his Asian trade junket he omitted mention of a question the governor took about his son’s participation in the trip in behalf of Chinese clients who’ve received Arkansas taxpayer benefits from the governor.
Oman did note the participation of a former timber industry executive now working for Sun Paper, a potential paper mill developer in Clark County. The governor mentioned him, and his paying his own way, in the course of defending Asa Hutchinson III’s joining the entourage at several stops, including a client of his law firm that has received millions in state economic benefits. The governor said his son, too, paid his own way and he was happy to have such “partners” along. This angle was newsier than the old news that the Sun Paper mill is on hold because of uncertainty produced by the U.S. trade war with China.
The governor has yet to address directly the appearance of his son’s work for clients receiving direct financial benefits from his father, such as the $1 million the governor personally approved for a Chinese client with a facility in Jonesboro that his son lists as a client. Do you think the relationship helped Asa III land these clients?
The circumstance seems at least worthy of note, particularly given the recent coverage of other politically connected children — Trumps and Hunter Biden, for example — in business with foreign entities that interact with government.
For the record, some other media sources found the circumstances worth a note. Two examples:
STORY: Is the governor of Arkansas’ son benefiting from his father’s position?
— Marine Glisovic KATV (@KATVMarine) November 8, 2019
Governor should avoid the appearance of impropriety or invitation for suspicion. He and his boy shouldn’t have been like the Bidens, mixing public office and private interest in China. Respect appearances more . And that’s just the way I feel about it. https://t.co/GBQrxfes8Z
— johnbrummett (@johnbrummett) November 7, 2019