Democrats go after Rutledge security spending to attend political events | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 14, 2018

Democrats go after Rutledge security spending to attend political events

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 10:56 AM

Democrats have produced an ad slamming Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for using multiple members of her cyber crimes unit as personal security for political travel. Noted: She also used office money to buy some binoculars, apparently to better watch the inauguration of Donald Trump.
click to enlarge binocs.jpg
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on the spending this morning. In that article, a spokesman for Rutledge said that it was important that she have a voice on the national stage and security expenditures were made on recommendations of the security staff, with heavy allotments of manpower at a time of political protests in some places. Mike Lee, Rutledge's Democratic opponent, has said he doesn't disagree with a need for some security, but questioned the amount Rutledge has used. Said Lee:
"Arkansans want an Attorney General who is focused on Arkansas — and not Washington D.C. politicking. Taxpayer dollars should not go toward pursuing personal, political ambitions," said Lee. "Spending $10,000 in taxpayer dollars to go play Washington D.C. politics is a waste of your money. The reason for these out of state taxpayer financed trips is clear: a personal desire to push a political agenda on cable television programs.

"I won't misuse the office of Attorney General. I'm running to restore the office and its focus to the people of Arkansas."

The Democratic Party release:

The Democratic Party of Arkansas joins the Democratic Attorneys General Association (@DemocraticAGs) today to release a video, “Where in the World is Leslie Rutledge?”, to spotlight Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) chair and Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge’s unethical use of taxpayer dollars in Arkansas for security on personal, political travel to the RNC, DNC, and President Trump’s inauguration. The Arkansas Democrats and DAGA obtained records that show that on at least two occasions, AG Rutledge brought multiple agents with her as executive protection on out-of-state trips – for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in July 2016 and the Presidential inauguration in January 2017. On both occasions, it appears that an agent(s) drove a state vehicle from Little Rock to the respective destinations. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette also reported on these out-of-state trips.

“There is no denying there is a real need for security for the Attorney General; however, there is a problem when the Attorney General is utilizing taxpayer dollars for personal, political trips including things like sending agents to buy binoculars,” said Jacob Kauffman, Communications Director for the DPA Coordinated Campaign. “This is another example of the pattern of unethical, questionable behavior we see from AG Rutledge that makes her unfit for the job. It’s time to vote her out.”

According the records obtained, it appears the members of AG Rutledge’s security detail are enforcement officers in the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Attorney General’s office. When the officers of the Cyber Crimes unit are not staffing Rutledge’s security detail, they are tasked, according the Attorney General’s website, with “protecting Arkansas's children by investigating and arresting individuals who engage in crimes involving children online.”

“Everyone was surprised by the extravagant behavior of former EPA Administrator, RAGA chair, and Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt, but the truth is we see this kind of self-serving behavior from Rutledge and the Republican Attorneys General Association as par for the course,” said Sean Rankin, Executive Director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association. “The issue isn’t that Rutledge requires security—the issue is that she chose to use taxpayer dollars on trips that were purely political. Arkansas voters deserve AG that will put people over politics, not the other way around.”

In November, Rutledge is running for re-election against Democratic candidate Mike Lee. Lee is a Navy veteran with nearly 40 years of legal experience including serving as a compliance officer in the compliance, regulatory, and enforcement division (CRE) for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission focusing on toy safety and protecting kids.

Additional Background on AG Rutledge’s Misuse of State Funds for Travel

Rutledge brought three agents to the RNC convention in Cleveland. Further, it appears that an Arkansas state vehicle was driven to both conventions.

A state vehicle was driven at least 930 miles on July 16, 2016 (Little Rock to Cleveland is approximately 866 miles). Expense reports for all three agents place them in Cleveland from July 16 until July 22 providing executive protection to Rutledge during the RNC convention.

On July 22, 2016, the same state vehicle was driven at least 430 miles (Cleveland to Philadelphia is approximately 430 miles).

The day prior on July 21, Evans rented a car in Cleveland. It appears that one agent may have driven back to Arkansas while the state vehicle drove to Philadelphia.

Reimbursement records for agents show that they were in Philadelphia providing executive protection to Rutledge from at least July 27 until July 30.

The same state vehicle was driven at least 928 miles between July 29 and July 30 (Philadelphia to Little Rock is approximately 1,150 miles).

A list of charges for an unidentified card attributed to an executive detail agent additionally shows a hotel charge in Knoxville, Tennessee on July 30. Knoxville falls in the route from the northeast to Little Rock.

The agents filed for reimbursements for expenses from January 14 until January 22 made for “official AG business” in Washington D.C.

While in Washington D.C. it appears that Rutledge sent one agent to buy her binoculars in preparation for the inauguration. The $84 expense on January 19, was described as binoculars, “per AG for [the] office”.

According to the Federal Elections Commission and Arkansas Secretary of State, there were no reimbursement filings that evidenced reimbursement to the state of Arkansas by the RNC, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., or Rutledge’s campaign committee.

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