Life after Congress: Ex-Rep. Hutchinson says life is ‘exciting’

Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.), who also served as Drug Enforcement Administration administrator, describes his life out of public service as “exciting.” 

But that doesn’t mean he’s through with politics — he’s gearing up to run for governor of Arkansas again next year. (He ran in 2006 but lost to Democrat Mike Beebe.) And he has a long résumé to tout on the campaign trail.

The Arkansas native worked as a U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration, and represented his state as a member of the House of Representatives from 1997-2001. He came to national attention in 1998, when he served as one of the impeachment managers against then-President Clinton.

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In 2001, then-President George W. Bush appointed him to head the DEA. Hutchinson also served as the first under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in charge of border and transportation security.

More recently, he started his own law firm, The Asa Hutchinson Law Group, and has taught at the law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

He talked to The Hill about his time as a lawmaker and his post-congressional life.

Q: Who do you miss most in Congress?

The colleagues I got elected with ... of course, Jerry Moran [(R.-Kan.)] and Roy Blunt [(R-Mo.)], who are both over in the Senate. [Ex-Missouri Rep.] Kenny Hulshof, we had a lot in common because he’s a former prosecutor, and he’s out now. So those are some I had wonderful relationships with.

Q: What do you do in the evenings now that you no longer have to attend late-night votes?

The last six years I’ve really been out of the political arena and so, yeah, my evenings can be playing tennis. It could be playing golf or relaxing at home. So it’s been an enjoyable time the last six years. … But I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I’ve worked as hard in the private sector as I worked in Congress. It’s just different.

Q: What do you do on election nights?

This last election cycle I went to the watch-night party in Little Rock, which our congressional delegation turned red. We took the majority from the Statehouse of Representatives for the first time in 130 years. 

Q: What’s your guilty pleasure?

I would say I’ve become attached to venison steaks. I didn’t have much time to hunt while I was in Congress and I’ve been able to hunt again [since I came back to Arkansas].

Q: Describe your life post-Congress in one word.

Exciting.

Q: Have you visited the Clinton Presidential Library? If so, what’s your favorite part?

I have. I have visited the library a number of times and my favorite part ... I would say it is [that] the Clinton School has a lecture series.

Q: You were head of the DEA, so what’s your take on the Lance Armstrong doping scandal? 

It’s an embarrassment to athletes everywhere and international competition. It’s an affront to the truth and terribly distasteful.

Q: You also worked for the Department of Homeland Security — have you seen “Zero Dark Thirty?” If so, what are your thoughts?

I have not seen it. ... Well, what’s interesting is I’ve seen people who viewed the movie [who said it] makes the case that torture was somehow helpful in getting Osama bin Laden, but I’ve seen other people who saw it and say it wasn’t.

Q: What did you think of President Obama’s skeet-shooting photo?

You know, silly comes to mind. I mean, why did you release it? You know, I think the most important thing is whether his gun policies are going to be right or wrong versus does he skeet shoot on the weekend. ... Coming from Arkansas’s perspective, I’m more interested in keeping our schools safe than something that’s simply cosmetic. 

Q: You’re doing consulting for the NRA, how do you think the debate is going?

I think there’s a growing recognition that we have to increase the security and safety of all of our schools, and that’s what I’m focused on. In terms of the overall debate, I think there’s some areas that can be improved, for instance background checks. ... There’s not going to be a consensus on restricting the Second Amendment, and I don’t see that going anywhere.