Favorite

Leslie Rutledge: do not rehire 

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge looks like she will survive revelations from her personnel file that she was a very poor public employee a decade ago when she was supposed to be representing children caught up in family troubles.

For four years, she had kept the lid on her personnel file at the state Department of Human Services, which showed that she was let go for "gross misconduct." An attached note said, "Do not rehire." When a trial judge said most of the file should be made public, she read it and discovered that whatever she feared was not in it. Moreover, the superiors who were displeased with her were shown to be little more competent than she was. So she released the files before the department had to. It was sort of a political victory.

Now if only she can expunge her record as the state's lawyer in chief, whose job is to see that the rule of law prevails in all the labors of civil government ... .

In that little matter, it has to be observed that she is the first attorney general in the state's 182-year history to be ordered by the Arkansas Supreme Court to stop violating the law.

It did so on May 23 when it ordered her to approve the ballot title for an initiated act to raise the state's minimum wage or else write one for it forthwith. She had rejected 70 straight ballot titles for a handful of citizen-generated constitutional amendments and initiated acts, nullifying people's right under the constitution to try to pass laws. But the two Republican justices on the court — Shawn Womack and Rhonda Wood — sided with her, as they will always do for people of her political persuasion. The other five at least nominally adhere to the nonpartisan standard prescribed by the constitution. After the Supreme Court's order, she approved all the ballot titles, although it left the backers little time to collect signatures to get them on the ballot.

The court never ordered even Jeff Davis or Bruce Bennett, her two predecessors whose styles and manners she imitates, to stop violating the law. A federal grand jury did charge Bennett with using the office to violate federal banking and conspiracy laws to enrich himself and his confederates, but a friendly federal judge postponed his trial for 10 years until he died.

Why do I compare Rutledge, the first woman to hold the office, to the flamboyant Bennett and Davis? Not because they were the two most colorful racists to Arkansas constitutional offices, although Rutledge did get a little recognition for some racist office-email taunts. She said her "country" talk was just misunderstood as racist.

When Rutledge ran for attorney general in 2014 it was to get rid of every vestige of the administration of the first black president. Much of the energy of her high-salaried staff since 2015 has been spent joining suits by Republican attorneys general around the country trying to strike down federal controls on big air and water polluters and to end health insurance for 300,000 Arkansans because they got it from Barack Obama.

It was vintage Davis and Bennett.

Davis ran for attorney general in 1898 by railing against Wall Street and the national Republicans. He spent his four years as attorney general filing 126 lawsuits to stop out-of-state insurance companies from doing business in Arkansas and by suing to stop all kinds of corporations from doing business in Arkansas. He lost every single suit, but the circus catapulted him into the governor's office and the U.S. Senate.

Bennett ran in 1956 against the federal courts and the race mixers and, once in office, wrote a bunch of bills for the legislature that were supposed to prevent integration of schools, public services or private commerce and also to purge schools and colleges of teachers who were members of the NAACP or any group that was known to oppose discrimination. The state or U.S. Supreme Courts declared every one of the acts unconstitutional.

The historical analogies to Davis and Bennett are for using flamboyance as a political tool. Their grand legal battles against alien foes — Wall Street, federal judges, the NAACP, Barack Obama — did nothing for the people of Arkansas, but people love grandstanding, even when it gets a little risque, like Jeff Davis' boasts about his drinking and about lynching black people to keep them in their traces. Donald Trump turned serial infidelities, bankruptcies and outrageous accusations into a fabulous but perhaps short political career.

Rutledge has been a trifle more circumspect. She may have gotten a little mileage out of the circulating story about her flinging her panties at a lobbyist in the Capital Hotel Bar while she was Gov. Mike Huckabee's in-house counsel. His chief of staff was not supposed to be pleased about it, but she still landed a good job with the Department of Human Services and later on his presidential campaign staff.

It may be genetic. Her grandfather and namesake, Les Rutledge, was a famous and widely beloved mountaineer, rifleman, bootlegger and killer in Independence County. A rifle in each hand, he gunned down the neighboring Beel brothers in a mountaintop standoff in 1952, killing one instantly and mortally wounding the other. He got five years in the pen, where he deployed his rifles as a long-line rider, but as soon as Orval Faubus became governor in 1955 he commuted the sentence and sent him home to a hero's welcome.

So it will be for Leslie Rutledge in November. She is a Republican and this year that is what it takes.

Favorite

Speaking of Leslie Rutledge

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • GOP's health care quandary

    Republican officeholders, in Arkansas and everywhere, have found themselves in an impossible catch-22 — caught between mutually conflicting political demands by their voters. I’m talking about the political dilemma of choosing between the widely hated Obamacare and the highly popular provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
    • Apr 5, 2019
  • The worst legislature ever

    Anti-women. Anti-poor. Anti-black. Anti-people. Anti-old-style Republicans.
    • Apr 1, 2019
  • ACA will stand

    If you are worried about your health care — and that ought to be nearly everyone — pay no attention to the triumphant tweet of President Trump last Friday or the hurrah the same day from Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general, after the most political judge in America declared the whole Affordable Care Act null and void.
    • Dec 20, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • Shrugging off sulfides

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported a shocker on its front page Sunday. The rotten-egg odor from the Koch brothers' sprawling paper plant at Crossett is still making people sick, but the state's pollution control agency is unaware of the problem.
    • Mar 29, 2018

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • GOP's health care quandary

    Republican officeholders, in Arkansas and everywhere, have found themselves in an impossible catch-22 — caught between mutually conflicting political demands by their voters. I’m talking about the political dilemma of choosing between the widely hated Obamacare and the highly popular provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
    • Apr 5, 2019
  • The worst legislature ever

    Anti-women. Anti-poor. Anti-black. Anti-people. Anti-old-style Republicans.
    • Apr 1, 2019
  • ACA will stand

    If you are worried about your health care — and that ought to be nearly everyone — pay no attention to the triumphant tweet of President Trump last Friday or the hurrah the same day from Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general, after the most political judge in America declared the whole Affordable Care Act null and void.
    • Dec 20, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Yes, he's a liar. Yes, he's a stooge. But too few care.

    If the recently released Mueller Report proves nothing else, it’s that almost everything Trump derided as “Fake News” regarding his campaign’s conniving with Russian operatives during the 2016 election has proven to be remarkably accurate.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: 'Exonerated'

    • Sounds like Webster is giving the definition of the mainstream media.

    • on April 22, 2019
  • Re: Bernie, the millionaire Socialist

    • Sooner or later you will run out of other peoples money

    • on April 22, 2019
  • Re: Bernie, the millionaire Socialist

    • Socialism in general has such a blatant record of failure that only great intellectuals could…

    • on April 22, 2019
 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation