Rutledge Joins Bipartisan Effort, Objects to the EPA’s Cap-And-Trade RuleWed, Feb 3, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined officials from 18 other states in challenging a proposal that will effectively force a cap-and-trade program upon Arkansas if it does not comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) so-called Clean Power Plan.
“If Arkansas does not fully comply with the EPA’s unlawful new carbon rule then the agency will force the State to comply with a far-reaching federal plan,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans know best how to protect our clean air, but the EPA has indicated it is willing to ignore State authority in order to push a political agenda that failed to pass Congress when the President’s own party had large majorities in both chambers.”
Participating states contend the EPA’s federal plan, as set forth in relation to the Power Plan, upends state authority, increases electricity prices and violates numerous aspects of federal law.
Rutledge objected to the federal plan last month with a public comment letter to the EPA and stressed the State’s opposition to the underlying Power Plan, while questioning the EPA’s authority.
The letter also argues that the EPA lacks authority to impose a carbon credit trading program on states, arguing that such a proposal runs contrary to the Clean Air Act, violates state sovereignty and raises serious constitutional issues.
Congress rejected President Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal in 2009.
Rutledge is part of a bipartisan coalition that has filed suit against the EPA’s Power Plan. The lawsuit argues the Power Plan exceeded EPA’s authority by double regulating coal-fired power plants and forcing states to shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation.
Rutledge has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately halt the ongoing damage caused by the Power Plan after the D.C. Circuit denied a request.
Rutledge Speaks to National Association of State Departments of AgricultureTue, Feb 2, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today spoke to State commissioners, directors and secretaries of agriculture from across the U.S. at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture winter conference in Washington, D.C. Rutledge was invited to address the gathering by Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.
“Growing up on a cattle ranch and married to a soybean farmer, I know first-hand the challenges facing this critical part of Arkansas’s economy,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This country and the world rely on America’s farmers and ranchers who provide a safe and reliable food supply and make a vital contribution to our economy. I was honored to be invited to speak by Secretary Ward, and I commend him for the work he is doing for Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers.”
“Attorney General Rutledge understands how important agriculture is to the state of Arkansas and has been a tremendous asset in helping to keep Arkansas farmers and ranchers successful and prosperous,” said Secretary Ward. “But, it's not just Arkansas, Attorney General Rutledge understands how important agriculture is to our country as a whole as demonstrated through her work as co-chair of the agriculture committee of the National Association of Attorneys General.”
Rutledge spoke to the group about her belief in common sense state and federal regulations – not ones that hurt Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers. This common sense view underlies the six legal challenges she has made to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions on behalf of Arkansas. Specifically, Rutledge highlighted her legal challenge to the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and the so-called Clean Power Plan. Following a lawsuit against WOTUS by Rutledge and 12 other states, an injunction was put in place blocking WOTUS from taking effect until its legality can be determined. Additionally, Rutledge is concerned about the negative impacts to Arkansas and the rest of the country if the Power Plan were to be fully implemented, and she has joined a bipartisan coalition of states challenging the rules’ legality. Last week, she joined a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to stay the rule.
Rutledge also highlighted her work as the co-chair for the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture. For many years, this committee was dormant, but after Rutledge took office she immediately began encouraging her colleagues to restart the committee. Along with co-chair Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, the committee provides a venue in which attorneys general can work collaboratively to discuss and address the new challenges facing consumers, farms and the agriculture industry. Rutledge encouraged those in attendance to reach out to their own attorney general and to use this agriculture committee as a resource as they develop agriculture policy in their respective states.
Rutledge Files Lawsuit Against Automatic Auto FinanceTue, Feb 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed a consumer-protection lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Automatic Auto Finance Inc. (AAF), Jorja Trading Company Inc., CashFish Motor Pawn Inc. and their officers and owners. The AAF/Jorja companies are a group of buy-here-pay-here automobile dealerships with several locations in northwest Arkansas. The lawsuit alleges that the AAF/Jorja companies are engaging in deceptive practices by selling and financing used vehicles then using prohibited collection methods against Arkansas consumers.
A buy-here-pay-here dealership is one that offers vehicles for sale along with in-house financing. Many consumers who are unable to obtain traditional financing from banks or credit unions are often forced to consider the credit options of a buy-here-pay-here dealership because of limited financial resources and poor credit ratings.
“This buy-here-pay-here dealer is abusing economically disadvantaged consumers who have little or no credit resources by selling them a low-value vehicle financed at an exorbitant price and interest rate,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Unfortunately, instead of helping Arkansans, these businesses only trap consumers in a cycle of debt. These egregious actions are truly unconscionable, and the Consumer Protection Division exists to protect consumers in exactly these types of situations.”
According to the complaint, the defendants’ primary business is selling and financing low-value vehicles at inflated prices to consumers who the AAF/Jorja companies know are likely to default on the financing contract; reselling repossessed vehicles in a commercially unreasonable sale to create a significant deficiency balance; using prohibited collection practices to collect on that deficiency balance; and reselling vehicles to other consumers to repeat the scheme. To date, the Attorney General’s office has identified 2,252 cases of prohibited collection practices by the defendants since 2010.
Rutledge is asking the court to impose civil penalties, restitution, attorneys’ fees, costs and other relief against these individuals and companies. The dealerships operated by the AAF/Jorja companies include Auto Now, Instant Auto, Motor Street Auto of Northwest Arkansas, On Time Auto, and All Star Auto Parts. Consumer victims of these business practices should contact the Attorney General’s office to file a consumer complaint at (800) 482-8982 or go to ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for FebruaryFri, Jan 29, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for February.
Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. In October, the initiative celebrated the milestone of holding office hours in all 75 counties, marking the first time that the Attorney General’s office has held office hours in each county across the State.
The Attorney General Mobile Offices assist constituents with consumer related issues in filing consumer complaints against scam artists. Staff will also be available to answer questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents. Attorney General Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.
On Wednesday, Rutledge announced that she is expanding the services offered at mobile offices to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. Rutledge is partnering with local law enforcement agencies across the State who will handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Rutledge encourages Arkansans to bring their old, unused or expired prescription medications to an upcoming mobile office.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.
The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:
Tuesday, Feb. 2
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Perryville Senior Adult Center
107 N. Magnolia St.
Perryville, AR 72126
Thursday Feb. 4
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Des Arc Senior Center
1103 E. Main St.
Des Arc, AR 72040
Thursday, Feb. 18
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Grant County Senior Center
1525 Highway 270 E.
Sheridan, AR 72150
Hot Spring County
Tuesday, Feb. 23
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Central Arkansas Development Council Malvern Senior Activity Center
1800 W. Moline St.
Malvern, AR 72104
Thursday, Feb. 25
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Mid Delta Community Center
553 N. 7th St.
Clarendon, AR 72029
Rutledge Announces Austin Man Sentenced for Crimes Involving ChildrenThu, Jan 28, 2016
LONOKE – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that a Lonoke County man has been sentenced to 40 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on child exploitation charges.
John Herndon, 64, of Austin pleaded guilty to 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving children. In addition to his prison sentence, Herndon must register as a sex offender.
“The Attorney General office’s Cyber Crimes Unit works closely with local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies across the State to protect our children from these dangerous predators,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am committed to protecting our children and families, and I appreciate the diligent work of officials to get these criminals out of our neighborhoods and off the internet.”
Herndon was arrested in August on a search warrant executed by the Attorney General Cyber Crimes Unit. An attorney from the Attorney General’s office was appointed by the 23rd District Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham as special deputy prosecutor. Judge Sandy Huckabee sentenced Herndon on Jan. 19 in Lonoke County Circuit Court.
Rutledge Adds Prescription Drug Take Back Boxes to Mobile OfficesWed, Jan 27, 2016
BENTON – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today said that she is expanding the services offered at Attorney General Mobile Offices to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. Constituents will continue to receive help with consumer-related issues in filing consumer complaints and be provided with information about scams, identity theft, fraud and other protections, but now Arkansans will be able to dispose of their expired and unused medications. Rutledge made the announcement at the Central Arkansas Development Council Senior Wellness and Activity Center in Benton and was joined by Arkansas State Police Director Col. Bill Bryant, Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane and State Drug Director Denny Altes.
The mobile office is part of what the office is calling Rutledge Resources Days, which are days when staff visit a county and spend the entire day there – holding a mobile office, conducting Digital You presentations to various groups, including seniors, teens and parents and hosting parent/teacher child safety booths. Rutledge is partnering with local law enforcement agencies across the State to provide the Prescription Drug Take Back boxes.
Rutledge noted at the announcement that without any promotion of the service during the month of January, the office has already collected more than 70 pounds at seven mobile offices.
“The Drug Take Back program has proven to be an effective way of getting expired and unused prescriptions, which pose a serious danger, out of our medicine cabinets,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By providing Drug Take Back boxes at mobile offices, Arkansans will be provided with another collection site to properly dispose of these medications and protect their loved ones. This does not seek in any way to replace the boxes already available at local sheriffs’ offices, police stations or on Drug Take Back Days. Instead, this expands on my partnership with local law enforcement to get these drugs out of our homes and destroyed in a safe manner. I want to extend my appreciation to law enforcement for their commitment to the Drug Take Back program and for working with my office to offer this service to the citizens of Arkansas.”
“No community, big or small, is spared from the threat of prescription drug abuse,” said Col. Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police and former assistant special agent in charge of the Little Rock District Office for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “These expired or unused prescription drugs sitting in our homes and offices need to be properly disposed. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working as a team, in combination with civic organizations and businesses, are providing a secure method of destroying these unused prescription drugs in an environmentally safe manner. This also prevents these prescription drugs from being diverted to the streets for illegal sale and distribution.”
“The Arkansas Drug Take Back Program is an educational program to encourage all citizens to keep their households safe by practicing Secure, Monitor, and Dispose of their outdated, unused prescription medication,” said Kirk Lane, chief of the Benton Police Department. “The Arkansas Attorney General’s continued involvement with this program as a partner has been a key to its success. The General’s new collection opportunity will enhance efforts throughout the State and make accessibility to collection sites more available to every person. I applaud her and her staff, and encourage all Arkansas citizens to get involved and make this a safer State.”
“I applaud Attorney General Rutledge for her efforts to remove old and expired medications from our communities,” said Dr. Gregory Bledsoe, Arkansas Surgeon General. “These medications can find their way into the hands of children, and can contribute to unintended public health consequences. Thanks to General Rutledge and the other community leaders who are making this medication take back a reality.”
“Many teens report that they obtain prescription drugs from home medicine cabinets,” said Denny Altes, Arkansas State Drug Director. “This effort by the Attorney General is a great way to change that, and we encourage everyone to be proactive and take their unneeded medication to the Attorney General's or other take back events, and protect the people closest to them.”
“Prescription drug abuse in Arkansas is a serious threat to our children that we must address,” said Dr. John Kirtley, executive director of the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy. “There is an inherent misbelief that prescription drugs are safer than so called, ‘street’ drugs, when in fact they have the same risks for abuse, addiction and overdose. The best thing Arkansans can do with unused medications is dispose of them via Take Back programs, such as this new initiative being started by the General Rutledge. Prescription drugs that are disposed of in this manner will never be a threat to our children again.”
The Attorney General’s office has long been a partner in National Prescription Drug Take Back Days. The next nationwide take back event is scheduled for April 30. The Attorney General’s office also plans to host the fifth annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Summit this year.
Earlier this month in Searcy, Rutledge announced that she had adopted a new Internet safety program, Digital You. The program teaches seniors and older adults who are digital newcomers about tips and tricks to learn how to use mobile devices, navigate the Internet, recognize scams, keep private information secure, back up data and more so that they can be empowered online. Parents are given information about managing device usage, staying safe online, handling issues like cyberbullying and online reputation and protecting devices and information. And teenagers are taught how to safely and responsibly navigate their digital lives.
On Monday, Rutledge visited Alma Spikes Elementary School in Pocahontas to share with parents, teachers and administrators the resources the Attorney General’s office has to offer at new parent/teacher child safety booths. Child ID kits, ID bracelets, coloring books, stickers, teen cards, parent guides and other Internet safety materials are available at booths.
For information on mobile offices, the Drug Take Back program, parent/teacher child safety booths, Digital You or to find out the Rutledge Resource Day county schedule, please visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007.