Arkansas governor reports nearly $65,000 in trips accepted
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ governor reported Wednesday that he and his wife accepted nearly $65,000 in trips from groups last year, with more than half coming from a nonprofit foundation that paid for three international trade missions.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson detailed the trips he and first lady Susan Hutchinson accepted from the groups in his annual statement of financial interest. Hutchinson reported that the Arkansas Economic Development Foundation paid nearly $36,000 for airfare, lodging and other travel costs for trade missions to Europe, Asia and Mexico.
The state Republican Party paid nearly $19,000 in travel expenses for Hutchinson, including for the governor and the first lady to travel to President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Most of the trips Hutchinson has accepted since taking office have been from the foundation for economic development trips. Hutchinson accepted more than $73,000 in trips in 2015 and more than $47,000 in 2016. The foundation also paid for trade missions for Hutchinson’s Democratic predecessor, former Gov. Mike Beebe.
“The governor sees the importance of using these private funds versus taxpayer dollars in order to take these trade missions,” said J.R. Davis, a spokesman for Hutchinson. “He doesn’t want that to be a burden on taxpayers.”
Hutchinson also reported the National Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association paid travel expenses for meetings held by the groups. He chairs the NGA’s economic development and commerce committee, and the RGA’s public policy committee.
Aside from his $143,820 salary as governor, Hutchinson reported more than $12,500 in income from his federal retirement. Hutchinson is a former congressman and federal Homeland Security official. He also reported more than $12,500 in dividends from B2G Global Strategies, a California-based consulting firm, and more than $12,500 in rental property income. Elected officials are not required to list specific income amounts, only whether it amounts to more than $1,000 or more than $12,500.
Hutchinson also reported receiving an honorary membership to a Little Rock country club valued at $2,772.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge reported accepting more than $54,000 in travel last year, with nearly $39,000 paid for by the Republican Attorneys General Association for its national meetings and trainings. Rutledge is the group’s chairman.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin reported the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, where he serves on the executive committee, paid more than $1,700 for food and travel expenses for two meetings last year. He also reported the Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellowship paid $476.86 for him to attend a program meeting on education.
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