DHS confirms it's withholding personnel records on Leslie Rutledge | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, August 18, 2018

DHS confirms it's withholding personnel records on Leslie Rutledge

Posted By on Sat, Aug 18, 2018 at 5:04 AM

Chris Burks, the lawyer in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking personnel records of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge when she was a staff lawyer at the Department of Human Services, says DHS confirms the existence of records that have not been released in previous examinations of her record there.

Burks said the DHS lawyer told him in writing that records were being withheld because of privacy concerns. The records will be taken to a hearing scheduled Monday in the case before Circuit Judge Tim Fox. Burks said he'd ask that the records be reviewed by the judge in private.

Burks said he intended to argue that releasing the records is not a "clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy," a standard for FOI exemption of personnel records. But he said that, even if the judge finds a privacy interest, that he'd argue that if the records formed the basis of a decision to terminate Rutledge there's a compelling public interest in her disclosure.

Rutledge's short tenure at DHS ended abruptly when she went to work for Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. Files released previously included a "do not rehire" memorandum from her supervisor and questions were raised at the time about racially offensive e-mail she shared and about her work in some cases. But media weren't told about the extent of records being withheld.

Rutledge has said the request for her work records are "fake news." Her tenure as attorney general is the longest stint she's worked at a legal job since becoming a lawyer. She bounced around from state to courts to private legal practice to Republican Party work.

Reed Brewer, a Democratic Party employee, is plaintiff in the suit. Democrat Mike Lee is opposing Rutledge's re-election bid.

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