Favorite

Leslie Rutledge is not fit to be attorney general 

Seven reasons why.

click to enlarge LESLIE RUTLEDGE: Not qualified image
  • RUTLEDGE: Not qualified.

1. She has a sketchy job record with little relevant experience. Since graduating from law school in 2001, she's had at least nine jobs, lasting two years or more at only two. Apart from 14 months as a deputy prosecutor in Lonoke County, a few months in private practice in Jacksonville and her establishment of a personal law firm in Little Rock when she returned from Washington after the 2012 election, her jobs have almost entirely been in service of partisan politics (for national Republican groups and Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign) or government positions she landed through nepotism (as law clerk for family friend Jo Hart, when Hart was on the Court of Appeals, and as deputy counsel for the Huckabee administration, in which her father served as drug czar). Although Huckabee has endorsed her for attorney general, she only lasted 10 months working for him as governor and left for a lower-paying job. A former staffer has told the Times controversy surrounded her departure.

2. One of the largest state agencies, which she would represent as attorney general, wouldn't rehire her. Following her resignation, after 14 months, as staff counsel for the Division of Children and Family Services for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, agency officials put her on a "do not rehire" list because of "gross misconduct." DHS files contain accounts of Rutledge mishandling cases. An examination of her personnel file is limited by state law, but Rutledge could allow records to be released. She's refused.

3. She doesn't think there's anything wrong with forwarding a racist email. Perhaps a hint at what "gross misconduct" might mean: While working at DHS, she forwarded an email written in grotesquely offensive dialect. A sample passage: "baby's momma done turn into a ho and a stripper an she be raisin' fusses and kickin' and bitin' and whoopin dis man ..." After releasing a statement saying she'd merely forwarded the email "without comment," she told a TV reporter that whether one sees racist overtones in the email is determined by "the heart of the reader." She also said several "black individuals" told her the email sounded like "country talk." That she could make such a statement alone should discredit her for public office.

4. She supported Arkansas's unconstitutional voter ID law, committed voter fraud herself and was tossed from voter rolls for being simultaneously registered to vote in three states. Before the Arkansas Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, Rutledge pledged to defend Arkansas's voter ID law. In the May primary, the law disenfranchised more than 1,000 Arkansas absentee voters whose ballots would have been counted if not for the unnecessary and politically contrived law. One vote that shouldn't have been counted? Rutledge's in 2008. After moving to work for the Huckabee presidential campaign, she registered to vote July 3, 2008, as a permanent resident of Washington, D.C. Then on Sept. 15, 2008, she requested an Arkansas ballot to vote absentee in the 2008 general election. She had to affirmatively swear on the absentee ballot application: "I reside within the county in which I am registered to vote." Her explanation? She said she voted where she knew she was registered. Rutledge's voter history came under scrutiny after Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane canceled Rutledge's voter registration after learning she was simultaneously registered to vote in Pulaski County, Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Va.

5. When she screws up, it's always someone else's fault. She has suggested her poor review at DHS was politically motivated, even though in 2007, when she held the job, she was politically unknown. She refused to apologize for forwarding a racist email, calling reporting on it a "desperate attempt by leftist bloggers to misattribute someone else's words to me." After Crane followed the law and canceled her voter registration — which simply meant that she had to reregister — she said he had "displayed a total lack of integrity by using desperate Chicago-style, partisan politics to disenfranchise me ... in an attempt to illegally secure the election for the Democratic Party." She also scurrilously said Crane had violated state and election law.

6. All she wants to do is fight the feds. Like many in her party, she has tried to distill her campaign message to one word — "Obama." Also like many in her party, she's running for an office that has little to do with the federal government. We'd be tempted to write this off as cynical campaigning, a lesser sin than forgetting the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (hint: it's what keeps the United States united). But Rutledge gives every sign that, if elected, she'll focus on fighting every federal law and regulation she objects to.

7. She coordinated with a dark money group. When a 501(c)(4) "stealth" PAC went after her during the Republican primary, she called the ads "manipulative" and "the worst of dirty politics." She also said anyone who didn't denounce the ads was "dishonest." So when the Center for Individual Freedom — a secretive 501(c)(4) nonprofit with a history of spending money to protect rich people's ability to contribute unlimited amounts in secret to political campaigns — pumped $1.8 million into attacking her opponent, Democrat Nate Steel, she denounced the group, right? Nope. She even went a step farther with the Republican Attorney Generals Association, a tax-exempt 527 Super PAC whose mission is to support Republican candidates financially and with message support. Federal law bars 527s from coordinating advertising with candidates, but Rutledge appeared in one of the group's ads. She maintains state law allows it. Though the ad didn't include any "express advocacy" words (such as "vote for" Rutledge), the value of it to Rutledge should surely be required to be reported as a campaign contribution and the laws on contribution limits and disclosure of donors should apply. The Arkansas Ethics Commission is currently investigating the matter, though it won't rule before the election.

Favorite

Speaking of Leslie Rutledge

Comments (23)

Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-23 of 23

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

Readers also liked…

  • The two faces of Mike Huckabee

    Medicaid expander, Obamacare opponent. Man from Hope, mansion in Florida. Child health proponent, Duggar apologist.
    • Jun 4, 2015
  • The ballad of Fred and Yoko

    How one of the world's foremost Beatles collectors died homeless on the streets of Little Rock.
    • Mar 31, 2016
  • Separate and unequal

    Sue Cowan Morris won the battle to equalize pay of black and white teachers. It cost her her job.
    • Jun 11, 2015

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Cover Stories

  • Plant of the year

    The legalization of medical marijuana was Arkansas's most significant news of 2016.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Profile of a plant

    What science does and doesn't tell us about the health benefits of cannabis.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Other lights

    Honorable mentions for 2016 Arkansan of the Year, with plenty of solid contenders for the crown.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Inconsequential News Quiz: Trumpocalypse Now Edition

    • PLEASE READ!!! Celebrate this season with joy and gladness in your heart, Do you know…

    • on January 20, 2017
  • Re: Profile of a plant

    • I have been diagnosed with COPD for over 7 years. A couple of months ago…

    • on January 19, 2017
  • Re: Profile of a plant

    • There is plenty of studies out there, which fill in the holes in this story…

    • on January 19, 2017
 

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