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Hutchinson heading homeland security at Venable

A day after leaving his post as U.S. Homeland Security undersecretary, Asa Hutchinson was named chairman of homeland security practice at Venable. Hutchinson’s spokesman said yesterday in a statement that Hutchinson will split time between the law firm’s Washington office and other “personal and business interests” in Little Rock. “Although I may be leaving the DHS, I remain fully committed to strengthening domestic security on behalf of U.S. business, industry, and state and local governments,” Hutchinson said. “I sought to partner with a law firm that had not only shown a dedication to homeland issues, but also one that understands how homeland security impacts business and industry.” There was speculation for the last few months about whether Hutchinson would leave his post as undersecretary of border and transportation security to return to Arkansas after he was twice passed over for the department’s top job. He announced at the end of January he would resign March 1 and has left open the possibility of running for governor of Arkansas as a Republican in 2006. Hutchinson’s boss at Homeland Security, outgoing Secretary Tom Ridge, said Venable was gaining someone with unmatched knowledge of the issues. “His dedication to fostering the public-private partnership will be a tremendous asset to the firm’s work in this vital area,” Ridge said. Venable is led by former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, who said the firm’s homeland security law practice would be bolstered by one of the founding members of the national Homeland Security department. “America’s domestic security apparatus has undergone a complete overhaul since September 11. Asa was not only present at the creation of this vast new security infrastructure, he was one of its chief architects and implementers,” Civiletti said. Prior to serving in DHS, Hutchinson led the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for two years. He served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was a prominent member of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. In 1982, then-President Reagan appointed Hutchinson U.S. Attorney for Western Arkansas, making him the youngest U.S. Attorney in the country. While in that post, he prosecuted the violent white supremacist group The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord. Hutchinson helped negotiate the surrender of Covenant leader James Ellison and prosecuted 13 of the group’s members.