Democrats are resurrecting their search for undisclosed records from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s time as a staff attorney at the Department of Human Services, filing a lawsuit they hope will bear fodder for an election campaign against the incumbent Republican.
The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court Friday by a staff member for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, seeks to force the Department of Human Services to turn over records left out of Rutledge’s publicly released personnel file as well as emails between Rutledge’s former supervisors related to he job performance.
Reed Brewer, a communications director with the state party, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the full un-redacted file July 2, according to the lawsuit, but DHS denied disclosure of portions of the document due to “public interest issues.”
Rutledge abruptly quit working as an attorney for the agency in 2007 to work on former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign.
After she left, her personnel file was amended to say that she was terminated for gross misconduct, according to portions released during Rutledge’s first successful run for attorney general four years ago. Emails between her bosses included in the file also show Rutledge’s name was added to a “do-not-rehire” list.
Rutledge’s record does not include any details about what she did that constituted “gross misconduct.”
“All taxpayers have a right to know the basis of her termination,” said Chris Burks, an attorney representing Brewer. “The Attorney General is responsible for law enforcement and millions of tax dollars.”
In an written statement, Rutledge responded by accusing Democrats of “dragging up decade-old fake news.”
"On December 13, 2007 — ten days after my voluntary resignation — my former supervisors at DHS scratched out ‘voluntary’ and altered my personnel file to reflect something that was completely false without any notice to me or legal justification for doing so,” Rutledge said. "Arkansans, just like all Americans, are tired of dishonest Democratic bureaucrats altering files and changing records for political purposes."
Mike Lee, the Democrat running against Rutledge in the November election, said in a statement: “The public deserves to know the employment history of anyone they are about to hire, whether it’s a DHS attorney or an attorney general."
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.