Asa Hutchinson’s Trans-Bill Veto Draws Scrutiny over Special Interests’ Influence

In this July 20, 2020 file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson removes his mask before a briefing at the state capitol in Little Rock. Gov. Hutchinson on Monday, April 5, 2021 vetoed legislation that would have made his state the first to ban gender confirming treatments or surgery for transgender …
Staci Vandagriff/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP, File

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) appears caught in contradictory statements concerning corporate interests that may have encouraged his veto of Arkansas’ recent transgender surgery legislation.

Hutchinson was challenged on April 6 by Fox News‘s Tucker Carlson, who asked:

My question is — have you spoken to any of the biggest employers, the biggest companies in Arkansas about this? Have you taken any calls from Tysons, from Dillard, from Walmart? Has anyone from those companies called you about this bill?

Hutchinson responded, “Uh, No.”

Tucker asked again, “Have you spoken to one corporate interest in the State of Arkansas about this bill?”

“I answered that question and I said, ‘no, I have not.’ Do you have another question?” Hutchinson responded.

But just a few days earlier, Hutchinson made reference to why some corporations are “certainly worried about the image of our state.”

“We’re the home of some major global corporations here in Arkansas. They’re certainly worried about the image of our state,” Hutchinson stated on March 31 to host Rachel Campos-Duffy on Fox News Primetime.

“But we’re trying to send the signal that you can protect conscience, you can protect girls in sports, without being discriminatory, and trying to say, ‘we’re not diverse and tolerant of different lifestyles.’ That’s important for us, as a state, and what we have to achieve as a nation,” he continued.

Just after Hutchinson vetoed the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” which the state legislature overrode Wednesday to make law, the Walton Family Foundation, an organization founded by Helen and Sam Walton, who are also the founders of Walmart and from Arkansas, released a press statement.

“We are alarmed by the string of policy targeting LGBTQ people in Arkansas. This trend is harmful and sends the wrong message to those willing to invest in or visit our state,” the foundation wrote Tuesday after the measure was made law.

“We support Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s recent veto of discriminatory policy and implore government, business and community leaders to consider the impact of existing and future policy that limits basic freedoms and does not promote inclusiveness in our communities and economy,” it concluded.

According to the National Review, “neither Hutchinson’s office nor the WFF returned requests for comment — the two have ties.

Per FEC records, “the Waltons are longtime financial supporters of Hutchinson’s political career, as is Walmart.” Adding, “Sam Walton’s brother, Steuart Walton, is a current board member at Walmart and was tapped by Hutchinson last April to chair the state’s ‘Economic Recovery Task Force.'”

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