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Influence profile: NRA spokesman Asa Hutchinson

by Sunlight Reporting Group

Asa HutchinsonAsa Hutchinson, the former Republican congressman who will be the face of the National Rifle Association's response to last week's schoolhouse massacre, received more than $30,000 in contributions from the gun lobby during more than a decade of running for state and federal office, data downloaded from Sunlight's Influence Explorer shows.

The largest single donation, $4,950, came in February, 1997, just after Hutchinson entered the House. He served three terms before resigning in 2001 to become director of the Drug Enforcement Agency under then-President George W. Bush. Later, Hutchinson became a top-ranking official in the Department of Homeland Security. In 2006, he ran for governor of Arkansas, losing to Democrat Mike Beebe.

Hutchinson raised over $3.2 million for his failed gubernatorial bid, according to Influence Explorer. Two of his biggest donors were billionaires who are some of the biggest donors to super PACs and other outside groups that fund Republicans: Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and Dallas businessman Harold Simmons. Perry and his wife Doylene contributed $8,000 while Simmons and his wife Annette gave $6,000. Another big donor was billionaire oil and natural gas magnate T. Boone Pickens, who contributed $4,000.

In 1999, at a congressional hearing following a school shooting in his home state that killed five, Hutchinson warned against jumping at a "quick fix" and questioned whether more restrictions on gun sales and ownership would be effective. "It is an issue of family; it is an issue of American character; it is an issue of the American heart," he said.

Hutchinson's career has long entwined the law and politics. Hailing from the staunchly Republican stronghold of northwest Arkansas, he was the city attorney of Bentonville -- best known as the headquarters of Wal-Mart (a major Hutchinson contributor) before being appointed as a federal prosecutor for the region by former President Ronald Reagan. He served as chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party and ran unsuccessfully for the Senate before winning his House seat in 1996. In Congress, he served with his brother, Tim Hutchinson, an Arkansas senator from 1997-2003.

After leaving public office, Hutchinson briefly registered as a lobbyist (he is no longer registered). During that time, in 2007, one of his clients was  Point Blank Body Armor, which describes itself as the world's leading manufacturer of body armor.

(Contributing: Kathy Kiely, Bill Allison, Keenan Steiner; photo credit: U.S. House of Representatives)