Leslie Rutledge fires almost two dozen to begin tenure as attorney general | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Leslie Rutledge fires almost two dozen to begin tenure as attorney general

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 6:52 AM

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Leslie Rutledge will be sworn in as attorney general today at 10:30 a.m. in the House of Representatives.

In an invitation to followers yesterday, she acknowledged that changes aren't easy, "but it has been my priority to make this one as seamless as possible." Seamless is in the eyes of the beholder, of course.

I asked her spokesman Judd Deere yesterday for an account of personnel changes, always a fact of life in changes of partisan office leadership. He didn't respond, but the Democrat-Gazette quoted him as saying the new attorney general's staff had begun notifying 23 of the 177 employees of their firings (this wouldn't count some top hands who'd already departed and not been replaced).

I've asked Deere under FOI for the names and positions of those departing and the replacement hires, where known. I don't know if this is a turnover in keeping with past administrations. Commenters on the blog say it was not, but there hasn't been a partisan change in the office before.

One commenter said she'd heard those being severed included 15 attorneys, some with many years of experience in their jobs. Commenters said the notifications proceeded floor by floor in the office's multi-floor space in the Tower Building and security was abundant as employees were given a brief period to gather belongings and depart. It's a familiar tableau in mass layoffs throughout private industry.

One blog commenter said his wife, whom he described as a law school classmate and friend of Rutledge, was fired without a face to face meeting with Rutledge after five years on the staff. He described yesterday as a "bloodbath."

The departed aren't likely to drop by Rutledge's fund-raising reception at the Capitol Hotel at 4:30 pm. today to pay off her campaign debt. (It stood at $105,00 in her final campaign report — including $61,000 in a personal loan and $20,000 owed Split Rail Consulting and $24,000 owed S and S Strategies.)

UPDATE: A lawyer says a number of those dismissed included classmates from Rutledge's law school days.


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