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Attorney General Distributes Own Personnel Records Sought In Democratic Party Lawsuit

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge speaks with reporters at a closed-door press conference in her downtown Little Rock office.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge speaks with reporters at a closed-door press conference in her downtown Little Rock office.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Wednesday released her full personnel file from her time at the state Department of Human Services, two days after a judge ordered the files opened.

In a conference with reporters Wednesday, Rutledge produced the eight previously unreleased pages of her file regarding work performance and filing for unemployment benefits.

Those included two written warnings following Rutledge missing a court hearing and not returning phone calls while an attorney at the department, as well as files Rutledge alleges were doctored by her supervisors following her leaving the agency in 2007.

Rutledge told reporters that none of the infractions documented in her file would merit the "gross misconduct" written in her file as a reason for her termination.

"None of the instances that are listed here resulted in any harm to any cases, or, most importantly, any harm to any children," Rutledge said.

Rutledge said those mistakes were the result of a high caseload and high staff turnover rate during her time at the department, and that "gross misconduct" was added to her file following her departure from the agency. Rutledge abruptly left her position in the Office of the Chief Counsel in December 2007 to work on former Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered the release of files from Rutledge's time as a staff attorney in the office after Democratic Party of Arkansas spokesman Reed Brewer sued the department for violating the state's Freedom of Information Act.

In a statement, Brewer’s lawyer Chris Burks said he hopes to have the full and accurate documents to review by the end of the week.

"The FOIA lawsuit forced Attorney General Rutledge to finally do what she should have done four years ago," the statement reads.

Rutledge said Fox's ruling makes other public servants vulnerable to having their records doctored and subsequently released, and, though she's already released the documents central to the lawsuit, urged lawyers for the Department of Human Services to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What's that? APM is a nonprofit journalism project for all of Arkansas and a collaboration among public media in the state. We're funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR,  KUAF, KASU and KTXK. And, we hope, from you!

Copyright 2020 Arkansas Public Media. To see more, visit Arkansas Public Media.