ICYMI: New and Dangerous Labor Rule Hurts Small BusinessesWed, Jun 8, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Today, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in the Washington Examiner, which explains why she has taken a leading role in fighting the Labor Department’s Persuader Advice Exemption Rule.
Claiming that it will be equitable for all parties even though it only applies to employer-side labor lawyers, and not union-side lawyers, the Labor Department released its Persuader Advice Exemption Rule. By ignoring more than 50 years of legal precedent, the Labor Department is thrusting a rule on businesses that is unlawful under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which has long preserved the confidentiality of attorney-client communications by exempting advice relating to labor relations issues from disclosure.
Small businesses, the job creators of our country, will be forced to disclose a great deal of sensitive information that is currently protected by the attorney-client relationship. The sanctity of an employer’s relationship with its legal counsel has, until now, been protected from disclosure regardless of which political party was in power. Preserving the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship benefits everyone – labor and management alike – and should not be a partisan issue. The Labor Department is quite simply putting the interests of labor unions before the common good and the need to grow jobs.
Under current law, an employer of any size must report when attorneys communicate directly with its employees. However, under this sweeping new rule, a business will have to file reports on any advice it receives from an attorney concerning efforts to influence its employees’ unionizing activities – triggering the disclosure requirement even if the attorney makes no contact with the employees.
In a February letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, I raised this particular concern of small businesses because of the additional reporting requirement that applies specifically to outside counsel. Many large corporations employ in-house counsel and will be exempt from the new disclosure requirement. However, small businesses are less likely to employ in-house counsel; therefore, they would be required to report on confidential aspects of their relationship with outside attorneys, and failure to do so would result in serious penalties under the new rule.
While the Labor Department claims this rule will even the playing field and create more transparency, it actually jeopardizes the ability of employers to get the confidential legal advice needed to lawfully respond to such things as union bargaining, union elections and organizing campaigns. Job growth and economic development will be hindered at a time when we already have the lowest labor force participation rate in more than a generation.
What are job creators saying about this new rule? The National Retail Federation has called it “chilling.” The Associated Builders and Contractors fear it would discourage openness. And a senior counsel with the National Federation of Independent Business Legal Center concluded it would be next to impossible for lawyers to offer advice to business owners under the new rule.
Last month, I led a group of state attorneys general from across the country in filing a friend of the court brief in two federal cases, urging the courts to grant the plaintiffs’ motions for a preliminary injunction to stop the Labor Department’s new rule. And this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and I led a group of our colleagues in filing a motion to intervene in a Texas federal case challenging the rule. The American people would best be served by tabling this rule’s implementation until its full legality can be determined by a court of law.
As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I will continue to work to protect Arkansans and all Americans from this harmful and unlawful rule. It’s time to put jobs, economic growth and small businesses’ ability to obtain attorney advice ahead of political posturing.
Rutledge Disappointed in CFPB for Disregarding Her Request and Moving Forward with Controversial RuleThu, Jun 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge expressed disappointment with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for moving forward and proposing new federal standards for – and limitations on – credit lines, installment loans, deposit advances, automobile-title secured loans and payday loans. The CFPB disregarded Rutledge’s request to convene a conference of the states to discuss the potential impact and need for new federal regulations.
“By disregarding my request and the concerns raised by many others at the state and federal levels about sweeping federal standards that would govern small dollar lending, Director Richard Cordray has made it clear that he is not interested in cooperative federalism,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This one-size-fits-all federal approach from an unaccountable bureaucrat and agency ignores the interests of the states and will negate reasonable policies that already exist to protect consumers while at the same time allowing the free market to function properly. My office will review this proposed rule from the CFPB and evaluate the best course of action.”
Rutledge noted in her letter last month that the potential rule would conflict with, constrict and otherwise unnecessarily interfere with existing state consumer protection laws, lending standards, licensing systems and regulatory enforcement mechanisms.
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said in a statement today, “When I asked Director Cordray to identify states he believes do not adequately protect consumers of small dollar lending, he declined to do so. He also ignored concerns raised by state leaders like Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.”
Rutledge Announces Malvern Man Sentenced for Medicaid FraudThu, Jun 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Hot Spring County man for Medicaid fraud. Dantelle Knight pleaded guilty in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Knight will serve five years probation and pay a fine of $14,230.08. He was also ordered to pay $4,743.36 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund.
“Investigators and attorneys from the Attorney General’s office are working tirelessly to investigate and prosecute those who commit Medicaid fraud,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Medicaid is a critical safety net for some of the most vulnerable Arkansans, and I will ensure that those people attempting to defraud Arkansans are held accountable.”
Knight, 24, of Malvern was arrested by agents of the Attorney General’s office in February. He pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony. Knight billed the Arkansas Medicaid Program for services that were not rendered.
The case was initiated by a referral from the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and was prosecuted in coordination with the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutledge: U.S. Supreme Court Protects Private Property RightsTue, May 31, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today praised the U.S. Supreme Court for unanimously protecting private property owners, a position Rutledge had urged in a friend of the court brief.
The federal government argued that landowners could not challenge a government decision that their private property contained “waters of the United States” and therefore required permits for certain activities. But the Court held that the government’s decision represents “final agency action” and can be challenged in court.
“The federal permitting process is hamstringing landowners across Arkansas and the country with enormous costs and redundant paperwork,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today’s decision from the Supreme Court allows private property owners, who are being forced or intimidated into unnecessary compliance, to quickly challenge the federal government on these decisions.”
The case, Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Inc., centers on a North Dakota peat mining company that sought to challenge a government determination that its mining plans would require costly Clean Water Act permits. Rutledge was part of a coalition of 23 states that filed an amicus brief with the Court, supporting the North Dakota company.
In a separate case, Rutledge and 12 other states are challenging the government’s definition of “waters of the United States” as vague and radically overbroad.
Rutledge Celebrates Memorial DayMon, May 30, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today in observance of Memorial Day.
“Without the ultimate sacrifice of countless brave men and women across generations, we would not be able to enjoy the freedom and independence that we all hold dear,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Their commitment to service, devotion to country and vow to protect their fellow man is a big part of what makes the United States the envy of the world. Psalm 34:18 says, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ Today, I offer my prayers and heartfelt appreciation to the families of Arkansas’s fallen soldiers. We will never forget your loved ones and the responsibility to honor their memories today and every day.”
Rutledge Announces 5th Annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action EventWed, May 25, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event on Thursday, July 7 at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. The event, which is in its fifth year, was established to raise awareness of the challenges associated with missing persons cases and recognize Arkansas’s missing children and adults.
Sgt. Mark Simpson, of Arlington, Texas, will speak with members of the Arkansas law enforcement community during a morning training session. Sgt. Simpson led the task force established to find Amber Hagerman and investigate her murder. Nine-year-old Hagerman was abducted and recovered deceased in 1996. Her case led to the creation of the nationwide America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert system.
Also on July 7 at Camp Robinson, Rutledge has partnered with the Morgan Nick Foundation to provide a family program from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The program will be for families of missing adults and children and families who have had loved ones recovered, both alive and deceased. The program facilitator will be Duane Bowers, a nationally recognized and respected grief and trauma counselor who specializes in issues facing families of the missing.
“Arkansans who are living each day with a loved one missing deserve our support,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And that is why this annual event is so important. I want to continue to bring these families together and provide opportunities to connect with each other and the Arkansas law enforcement community. They need to know that their loved ones have not been forgotten.”
Rutledge will also host a luncheon, which will include a ceremony to honor families of missing children and adults and to recognize law enforcement officials who work to solve missing persons cases.
In the afternoon, investigators and other service providers will be on hand to assist families with active missing persons cases and give them the opportunity to submit information that may be useful in finding their loved ones.
Rutledge encourages families and loved ones of the missing to attend on July 7 and bring with them as much information as possible about their missing loved ones, such as police reports, photographs and dental records. Forensic analysts will also be at the event to take DNA samples.
Representatives from the FBI, National Unidentified and Missing Persons System, Morgan Nick Foundation, State Crime Lab and State Police Criminal Investigations Division will be available to assist families as part of the missing persons initiative.
Every service offered at the event is free.
Registration can be found at ArkansasAG.gov.
The Attorney General’s office serves as an information clearinghouse for reports on Arkansas’s missing children and acts as the main point of contact between the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and nonprofit missing children organizations in the state. For information about Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action, call (800) 448-3014 or email email@example.com, or to reach the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Cyber Tipline, call (800) THE-LOST (843-5678).