Rutledge Seeks to Intervene in EPA’s Proposed 111(d) RuleFri, Feb 13, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that she has filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 111(d) rule. Rutledge released the following statement:
“This proposed rule from the EPA is yet another example of an overreaching federal government that will harm Arkansas’s utility ratepayers, as well as have a devastating impact on the economy as a whole. As Attorney General, I will always seek to protect Arkansans. The EPA should withdraw this rule immediately.”
Arkansas is seeking to intervene in the suit against the EPA because of the significant and costly impact it would have on the Arkansas economy and its utility ratepayers. Rutledge is seeking to intervene in order to join the lawsuit with attorneys general from West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming and Kentucky.
As indicated in the motion, Arkansas is required to meet the sixth most stringent obligation of all the states under the proposed 111(d) rule, yet Arkansas ranks 46th in per capita income. The EPA proposes emissions rate reductions of 41 percent and 44 percent as interim and final requirements. The drastic reductions required under the proposed rule will negatively impact existing industry, future economic development and electric ratepayers in the State of Arkansas.
On June 18, 2014, Ohio-based coal company Murray Energy Corporation filed a petition for an extraordinary writ in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., challenging the EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Coal-fired power plants already are regulated under a separate section of the Clean Air Act, and the law expressly prohibits the double regulation of such plants. On August 15, 2014, Murray Energy Corporation filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. In an order on Nov. 13, 2014, these cases were consolidated.
Rutledge Marks National Salute to Veteran Patients Week with Visit to Fayetteville VA FacilityFri, Feb 13, 2015
FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge made her first official visit to northwest Arkansas with a stop at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks to mark National Salute to Veteran Patients Week. Rutledge released the following statement:
“I can think of no better way to spend my first official visit to northwest Arkansas than by visiting with the men and women who have given so much to preserve and protect everything we hold dear. The National Salute to Veteran Patients Week is about paying tribute to veterans, raising awareness of the role VA medical centers have in our communities and to encourage citizens to visit our hospitalized veterans. I am proud to participate in this effort and to show Arkansas’s veterans our appreciation.”
During the visit, Rutledge received a tour of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks and visited with patients, thanking them for their service. Rutledge helped distribute valentines made by local elementary school children to veterans as part of the hospital’s National Salute to Veterans event. Arkansas is home to over 250,000 veterans.
Rutledge Issues Letter to Anthem Regarding Data BreachWed, Feb 11, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and nine other state attorneys general have joined in a letter to Anthem’s president and chief executive officer, expressing concern with the failure of the company’s communication with those impacted by a recent data breach and over the lack of details being provided about the protections that will be made available to affected consumers. Rutledge released the following statement:
“Anthem customers are growing more and more concerned with the lack of communication from the company over its data breach. Despite disclosing the breach of data quickly, Anthem has done very little since to update its customers. The victims of this data breach have every right to know the protections that Anthem intends to provide and what other risks are now posed to their personal financial data.”
Late today, Anthem responded by announcing that the company will provide two years of identity theft protection and credit monitoring services to affected customers, beginning this Friday.
In the letter, sent yesterday, the attorneys general wrote, “Anthem must communicate detailed information without any further delay. Further, Anthem must commit to reimbursing consumers for any losses associated with this breach during the time period between the breach and the date that the company provides access to credit and identity theft safeguards.”
Arkansas signed the letter along with attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. A copy of the letter is attached.
Anthem reported a massive data breach on Jan. 27. This breach exposed detailed personal information of as many as 80 million of its customers.
Arkansas consumers are encouraged to contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 if they think they have been a victim of the Anthem data breach.
Rutledge Selects New Deputy Attorney General for Public ProtectionTue, Feb 10, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that she has named Sarah Page Tacker, of Conway, a longtime attorney in the Public Protection Department to be the Deputy Attorney General for the department. Rutledge released the following statement:
“Since 2010, Sarah has worked tirelessly on behalf of consumers across Arkansas, directing resources and supervising consumer protection investigation and litigation. I know Sarah will continue to ensure that there are fewer scam artists and people committing fraud against Arkansans as she assumes her new role as Deputy Attorney General for the Public Protection Department.”
Tacker began her tenure at the Attorney General’s Office in 2006 as an Assistant Attorney General for the Consumer Utility Rate Advocacy Division, where she represented the interests of Arkansas’s utility customers through advocacy, education and litigation. In 2010, Tacker was named a Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Consumer Protection Division and Consumer Counsel of Arkansas.
Tacker is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, in Conway, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law.
Last month, Rutledge hired Lloyd Warford, a longtime public defender and respected prosecutor, to lead the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. With the promotion of Tacker, the deputy attorneys general team is complete. Under the leadership of Chief Deputy Attorney General Julie Benafield, this experienced group of deputy attorneys general includes: David Curran, Civil Department; Darnisa Johnson, Criminal Department; Sarah Tacker, Public Protection Department; Lloyd Warford, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and Elisabeth Walker, Opinions Department.
Rutledge Congratulates New Arkansas National Guard Adjutant General Mark BerrySat, Feb 7, 2015
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement after attending today’s Arkansas National Guard Adjutant General changing of the guard ceremony at Camp Robinson:
“Major General Mark Berry has served his state and country with honor and distinction over his 40-year military career. I extend my congratulations to Major General Berry and his entire family today, and to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on his excellent selection to serve as Arkansas’s Adjutant General.
“I also want to thank Major General William Wofford, Arkansas’s outgoing Adjutant General, for his tireless service on behalf of Arkansas.”
$1.375 Billion State-Federal Settlement Reached with Standard & Poor’sTue, Feb 3, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that Arkansas, the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of 18 other states and the District of Columbia have reached a settlement agreement with Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (S&P) resolving allegations that S&P misled investors when it rated structured finance securities in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis. Rutledge released the following statement:
“Today, I am pleased to announce that after years of hard work and litigation, S&P is finally being held accountable for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. Arkansas consumers expect, and are entitled to, an impartial independent analysis of securities from credit-rating agencies. Unfortunately, for many years, S&P placed profit above people. But thanks to the work of this partnership between the States and the Department of Justice, we are demonstrating that no company, no matter its size, can circumvent the law.”
Arkansas will receive $21.5 million from the settlement.
In early 2013, Arkansas joined the U.S. Department of Justice, the District of Columbia and 18 other states in suit against S&P. The federal and state complaints against S&P alleged that, despite S&P's repeated statements emphasizing its independence and objectivity, the credit rating agency allowed its analysis to be influenced by its desire to earn lucrative fees from investment bank clients – while investors and other market participants, including state regulators, relied on S&P's promises of independence and objectivity. The complaints alleged that the agency knowingly assigned inflated credit ratings to toxic assets packaged and sold by the Wall Street investment banks. The alleged misconduct began as early as 2001 and became particularly severe between 2004 and 2007. As evidenced by the SEC’s recent suspension of S&P’s license to rate certain mortgage backed securities, the misconduct continued into 2011.
Structured finance securities backed by subprime mortgages were at the center of the financial crisis. These financial products, including residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS), commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) and collateral debt obligations (CDOs), derive their value from the monthly mortgage payments made by homeowners.
In addition to the financial settlement, S&P has agreed to a statement of facts acknowledging conduct related to its analysis of structured finance securities. S&P will also comply with all applicable state laws, including the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and for five years will cooperate with any request for information from any state expressing concern over a possible violation of state law.
Arkansas filed a consumer protection lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Feb. 5, 2014, against S&P alleging that the credit rating agency intentionally misled investors in the way it rated the toxic assets at the heart of the nation's financial crisis. The Attorney General’s pending suit against S&P will be resolved by the filing of a consent judgment which will include the terms of this settlement agreement.
In addition to Arkansas, the states involved in today's settlement include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington as well as the District of Columbia.