Friday, September 12, 2014

Leslie Rutledge has questions to answer on her job history

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 7:27 AM

A SPOTTY RECORD: Leslie Rutledge has questions to answer.
  • A SPOTTY RECORD: Leslie Rutledge has questions to answer.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette followed up today (but did not acknowledge) our first report here yesterday that Republican attorney general nominee Leslie Rutledge had been given a "do not rehire" label after abruptly resigning her job at the Department of Human Services as a staff lawyer in 2007.

The termination form had the word "voluntary" scratched out and was coded with a number indicating gross misconduct as a reason for termination. But there's no explanation for that coding in the file that was released and DHS officials won't talk about it. Rutledge told me yesterday that the department unhappiness perhaps arose from her failing to give notice that she was leaving abruptly to work for Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. She added a political dimension in her account to the Democrat-Gazette today. She speculated that it might have had something to do with the fact that she was going to work for a Republican and a Democrat, Mike Beebe, was governor.

Neither explanation is sufficient.

If there are other documents or communications within the department that explain Rutledge's departure, they should be made public. It is true that DHS may not be compelled by law to release them because she was not fired. But Rutledge is free to obtain those records herself and to release them. She should do so.

Rutledge's work history is vital to a decision in this race — perhaps THE issue. She's held many jobs, typically for short periods. Her longest stint in the five jobs she held between law school graduation in 2001 and 2007 was three years as a law clerk to Jo Hart, a family friend she helped elect to the Court of Appeals and once a lawyer in a case involving Rutledge's mother. She landed in the governor's office thanks to her father's political connections. Keith Rutledge was Mike Huckabee's drug czar and a political supporter. She spent 10 months working for Huckabee (and gave no reason for departure from that job on her DHS job application) then went to work for, successively, the Lonoke prosecutor (a Republican) and then  for a private attorney. In 2006, she got an "emergency" posting to fill a lawyer's slot in the Division of Children and Family Services.

A former governor's office employee  told me yesterday that unidentified controversy attended her departure from the governor's office. Huckabee has endorsed Rutledge, however.

The bottom line remains: The record shows Rutledge has been deemed unfit to work for an agency she seeks to represent in court as the state's attorney general. She provided no reassurances of her gogd judgment when she told the D-G she'd look into the circumstances of her unfavorable rating at DHS if she becomes attorney general.

If Rutledge IS elected and she DOES go on a witch hunt over handling of her DHS departure, let's hope she doesn't claim an FOI exemption for the attorney general's working papers. Because a searching examination would surely find the rest of the documents that would answer important lingering questions:

1) Why did she leave the governor's office after 10 months? Did she depart under pressure?

2) Was her resignation at DHS freely given or was it prompted by events as yet unknown? Was the Huckabee campaign job simply a third political favor to a supporter's daughter with a spotty employment history? 

Democratic attorney general nominee Nate Steel, on the other hand, has a solid record as practicing member of a family law firm and as prosecuting attorney. He's also provided a moderate tone lacking in Rutledge's campaign pronouncements that she sees her job mainly as an opportunity to tilt at federal government windmills. The job is something else: It is being the state's lawyer in criminal appeals and also — pertinently — investigating Medicaid fraud, a program funneled in large measure through her former employers at the Department of Human Services to recipients of nursing homes.

I remind you that nursing home baron Michael Morton of Fort Smith, who's been busily buying influence in judgeships from circuit courts in Faulkner County to the Arkansas Supreme Court, has poured at least $60,000 into Rutledge's campaign.

Many questions. Not many answers. Qualifications and experience count. The record is incomplete on Leslie Rutledge and where questions exist, they suggest she's lacking.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (14)

Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-14 of 14

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Death Row inmates argue to keep stay of execution in place; urge 8th Circuit not to 'rush' analysis

    Early this morning, attorneys for nine Death Row inmates, filed an argument with the 8th United States Court of Appeals contesting the state's effort to override Judge Kristine Baker's order Saturday that halted executions scheduled this month.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • Federal judge denies execution stay for Don Davis but larger stay continues

    Don Davis, who's been moved to the killing facility of the state prison for killing tonight at 7 p.m. if a stay of execution is lifted in another federal suit, sought a stay in another federal court Sunday, but the request was denied.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Transgender electrician may sue employer over her firing

    Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright has ruled that Patricia Dawson, a transgender woman, may pursue her lawsuit that she was wrongfully fired by her employer, H & H Electric, because of her sex.
    • Sep 16, 2015
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Tom Cotton suggests Dick Cheney as House speaker

    Yes. U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton told Politico he'd like to see Dick Cheny as House speaker.
    • Oct 12, 2015

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Most Viewed

  • Lee's lawyer writes about executed man's last hours

    Lee Short, the lawyer for Ledell Lee, the man Arkansas put to death just before midnight last night, posted on Facebook the following letter of thanks for personal support and a bit about Lee's last hours, distributing his possessions and talking to family.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation