Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and staffers attend Huckabee campaign announcement; AG's office says no violation of law | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and staffers attend Huckabee campaign announcement; AG's office says no violation of law

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 3:11 PM

click to enlarge HUSTLING FOR HUCK: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge took the day off to attend Huckabee's big day. - VIA BLUE HOG REPORT
  • Via Blue Hog Report
  • HUSTLING FOR HUCK: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge took the day off to attend Huckabee's big day.
Blue Hog Report notes that Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and several staffers were in attendance for yesterday's Tony Orlando concert campaign announcement from Mike Huckabee. That looks like it could be a violation of election law. Arkansas code states: "It shall be unlawful for any public servant ... to devote any time or labor during usual office hours toward the campaign of any other candidate for office or for the nomination to any office."

In addition to Rutledge, her spokesman Judd Deere and five AG employees (Channing Pejic, Sandy Martinez, LeFlore Barbour, Lydia Dillon, and Katy Fraley — who were pictured apparently working at a registration table) were in attendance at the campaign event. 

Violation of the relevant statute is a Class A misdemeanor, and grounds for removal from employment, impeachment, and a ban from holding office in the future. 

Attorney Matt Campbell at the Blue Hog blog argues that even if Rutledge argues that they were off the clock, the law bars devoting time to campaign-related activities "during usual office hours” — the Huckabee event was at 10 a.m. yesterday, clearly usual office hours for the AG's office. Campbell adds that if they were granted leave, it would be interesting to find out whether they used AG vehicles to travel to the event on what was ostensibly on off day. Campbell has submitted FOI requests regarding whether the relevant employees requested leave and whether AG vehicles were used to make the trip to Hope (UPDATE: according to the AG's office, the employees were on leave and used private vehicles to travel to the event).

Rutledge has won the day with creative excuses for apparent violation of election-law norms before. This might smell like an ethics no-no, but  the AG's office says it's all above board. Here is a statement sent to the Times just now from Deere: 

The Attorney General is committed to upholding the law. All of these individuals requested and were granted personal time off and were on annual leave from the office on Tuesday, May 5. In addition, all of these individuals used their own personal vehicle(s) to travel to and from Hope. No state resources were used by these individuals as part of the events in Hope.


VACATION DAY: AG staffers Channing Pejic, Sandy Martinez, LeFlore Barbour, Lydia Dillon, and Katy Fraley working for the Huckster.
  • VACATION DAY: AG staffers Channing Pejic, Sandy Martinez, LeFlore Barbour, Lydia Dillon, and Katy Fraley working for the Huckster.

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