Following up on Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's reveal of her state employment evaluations, Democratic challenger Mike Lee released his own government work records Thursday and invited voters to compare the two.
Lee, a former attorney covering toy safety at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, received all "highly successful" or "outstanding" marks on an employee evaluation in 2015, which he provided to reporters Thursday. Lee said it was his last evaluation with the commission before he retired and returned to Arkansas the next year.
"I want the voters of Arkansas to compare this record, my record, with her record," Lee said. "I'm proud of the work that I did and my co-workers and supervisors all respected me at the CPSC."
Lee was referring to Rutledge's record from her year spent working as a children and family services attorney at the Department of Human Services, which she left in December 2007 to work on former Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.
Rutledge voluntarily left but gave no notice, records show. Her personnel file also shows that it was amended after she left to say that she was terminated for "gross misconduct." Rutledge was placed on a "do-not-rehire" list by her former supervisor, a mark that has dogged the Republican candidate through her two political campaigns in 2014 and this year.
Much of her personnel record was released in 2014, but the Democratic Party of Arkansas sued this month to get access to the rest of it.
After a judge Monday ordered the release of Rutledge's employee evaluations, Rutledge agreed to release previously redacted pages from the record herself. Those eight pages showed that Rutledge received "satisfactory" remarks from her bosses, but was also cautioned about her preparation and timeliness for court.
Providing additional emails from her former bosses, Rutledge acknowledged Wednesday that she may have left her co-workers upset by her refusal to stay two weeks after giving notice, but said that it was understood by her bosses at the time that she was quitting voluntarily.
Drawing from comments made by Rutledge's former bosses in the emails, Lee offered a pointed critique of her departure, saying his opponent "flew the coop on them to play politics in Washington, D.C."
"As the Christmas holidays approached, she left those kids waiting," Lee said, a reference to Rutledge's clients. "She quit without notice, leaving her team scrambling to find someone to pick up her cases, unsure of their status. Leslie Rutledge has tried to gloss over this the last four years, but now we have her personnel file and emails."
Mike Lee's employee recordView
In a statement from her campaign spokesman Thursday, Rutledge responded by saying that "Democrats are desperate to be relevant."
Chris Burks, an attorney for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, filed the lawsuit to force the release of the redacted pages of Rutledge's record. The judge who ordered their release on Monday, Circuit Judge Timothy Fox, signed his order Thursday afternoon, and the agency released its copies of Rutledge's records about two hours later.
Speaking to reporters outside Lee's campaign office, Burks on Thursday questioned whether there were further documents yet to be released that could further explain Rutledge's "do-not-hire" tag, as well as documents stating that she was terminated for "gross misconduct." He said the legal battle for her records would likely continue.
A spokeswoman for DHS said Thursday that the agency had provided the judge with everything in Rutledge's personnel file, and the agency did not have copies of other records referred to by Burks.
Rutledge has maintained that her file was altered by "vindictive" supervisors who incorrectly stated she was terminated. The department on Wednesday admitted that it had erred in amending Rutledge's file without notifying her.
Her campaign spokesman, Josh Mesker, said Rutledge "took her work advocating for foster children extremely serious just as she takes her job as the state's chief legal officer protecting the lives of the unborn, arresting pedophiles, and holding criminals accountable."
Democrats view Rutledge as one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans running for re-election in 2018. Rutledge has noted that attempts to attack her record were unsuccessful in 2014, and she has criticized Democrats for going after it again.
Metro on 08/24/2018
Print Headline: Rutledge's rival Lee urges voters to compare ratings