Search continues for DHS emails involving Leslie Rutledge | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Search continues for DHS emails involving Leslie Rutledge

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 11:40 AM

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Reed Brewer
, the Democratic Party employee who successfully sued for records of Leslie Rutledge's undistinguished time as a Department of Human Services lawyer, said he has learned that there are thousands of e-mails in DHS possession that had not been turned over.

Brewer said in a news release:

Late yesterday the Department of Human Services (DHS) admitted it had up to 35,000 additional emails on Attorney General Leslie Rutledge that it has not yet released to the public.

A Judge ordered the release of Rutledge's employee evaluations last week, but Rutledge herself provided the press additional emails from her former bosses that DHS did not release.

A spokesperson for DHS previously said DHS did not have copies of other records held by Rutledge. However, late yesterday DHS admitted that there were 35,000 more emails regarding Leslie Rutledge. The department requested it needed another month to review all 35,000 email before they could be released. These further documents yet to be released could explain Rutledge's "do not rehire" tag, as well as documents detailing how she was terminated for "gross misconduct."

Chris Burks, lawyer for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, released the following statement regarding DHS admission of over 35,000 more emails:

"Taxpayers deserve to know why Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has emails about her job performance that the government itself didn’t release. The public also deserves to know why the Department of Human Services determined she committed 'gross misconduct' and could not be rehired as an attorney. We will not stop until all the public records come to light."

DHS did release 1,000 emails in 2014 concerning Leslie Rutledge, and 9-more pages per a Court order last week, but it remains unclear what the other 35,000 emails show.
I asked Amy Webb at DHS how emails turned up after DHS saying there were none from that time. She responded:

Mr. Brewer requested emails related to Ms. Rutledge’s personnel file. Mr. Burks has requested any email to or from Ms. Rutledge from 2006 through present AND any email that mentions her from 2006 to the present. I now have at least six employees working full time to go through all of those emails. Mr. Burks declined to narrow his search and he declined to provide us with an extension to respond to the request.
But didn't DHS say it didn't retain e-mail records from 2006-07, when Rutledge worked until quitting without notice?

A couple of things:

* The system does purge emails after seven years. However, if an email was placed “on hold” in another search the system doesn’t always purge those so there could be some in the system older than seven years.

* But remember, Mr. Burks requested well beyond her time here (through present). Given the scope of his request, the system will not only pick up emails to or from her, but anything that mentions her name.

We first reported the "do not rehire" memo in 2014. That link includes a link to her personnel file. There were many other stories then, including about the racist e-mail she'd passed along. Other stories recounted mishandling of adoption and juvenile cases.

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