Politics Hutcherson Says He Won’t Share His White House Tape (At Least, Not With The Stranger)
posted by April 12 at 14:40 PMon
If you’ve been following the strange saga of Pastor Ken Hutcherson’s travels abroad as a “Special Envoy” for the White House, you’ll remember that when this whole thing started, Hutcherson promised to produce a video tape that would prove the White House had given him the “Special Envoy” status he was claiming.
That was more than three weeks ago.
Since then, the White House has repeatedly denied that it gave Hutcherson any titles, “Special Envoy” or otherwise, in advance of his trip to Latvia.
There have been numerous accounts, however, of Hutcherson suggesting or outright stating that he was representing the White House as he lobbied against efforts to promote gay rights in Latvia. A local lawyer, Dave Coffman, has suggested that these claims by Hutcherson could have violated federal laws against posing as an official U.S. representative while abroad. Coffman filed a complaint with the FBI in late March, and said he received a follow-up call from the bureau on April 2. (The FBI will not comment on investigations unless charges are brought.)
Hutcherson, for his part, has maintained that he did indeed have support from the White House for his trip, and he has bridled at being called, in his words, “a liar.” As a German press agency reported in late March:
White House officials contacted by Deutsche Presse-Agentur denied that Hutcherson had any link with [the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives].
Hutcherson “was not appointed ‘special envoy’ by [the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives],” said White House spokeswoman Alyssa McClenning.
He has no official status or links with the body which would legitimately allow him to claim to represent the White House on a foreign visit, she added.
Hutcherson responded angrily to the comment, saying that he “did not appreciate being called a flat liar” and that the White House press office were unaware of his role.
Hutcherson has been a hard man to get in touch with. However, I finally managed to reach him on his cell phone yesterday.
When we spoke, Hutcherson reversed course and said he had the video, but would not be showing it to me.
“Oh yeah, I have it,” he told me. But, he added: “My relationship with the White House is much more important than my relationship with you.”
Hutcherson said he believes that if he produces the video, it will be used to embarrass the White House.
“I’m not going to give you information so you can go and attack the White House,” he told me. “Either way you win.”
If he doesn’t show the video, he remains vulnerable to charges that it doesn’t exist and that he was exaggerating or outright fabricating his “Special Envoy” status. If he does produce it, he risks further eroding his relationship with the White House.
Hutcherson told me that he believes the director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives recently put out a statement supporting Hutcherson’s version of events. I can find no evidence of this, and it seems unlikely that such a statement would have been missed by the reporters who are interested in this story. A phone call (today) and an email (yesterday) to the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives requesting clarification on this point have not been returned.
That’s fine with Hutcherson.
“You tell the White House, if they’re not going to say anymore, that’s fine,” Hutcherson told me.
Hutcherson seems to hope this story will stop here, with him claiming the White House version of events is wrong and the White House declining to comment further.
Perhaps it will. Or perhaps he’ll be willing to show his alleged tape to a reporter for a paper that he isn’t so upset with.
Hutcherson certainly sounded fed up with The Stranger in our conversation yesterday, which was a dramatic change of tone. After calling me his “brother” in phone and email messages over the past weeks, he angrily told me yesterday not to call him anymore, said The Stranger had “attacked” him, and said he would be happy to show his video in a court fight against The Stranger—which I interpreted as a thinly-veiled threat of legal action against the paper.
I told him I was simply trying to follow up on a test he himself had set up: The alleged video.
“Brother, I’m not giving you nothing,” Hutcherson said to me. “Don’t call me. Bye.” And then he hung up.