Rutledge Calls on General Assembly to Fix Initiative ProcessThu, May 17, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today calls on the General Assembly to fix the initiative (and referenda) process.
“Today, I call on the General Assembly to fix the process by which a citizen can place an initiative to amend the Arkansas Constitution on the election ballot. Citizens should know very early in the process whether the Arkansas Supreme Court approves of the language of their proposal, prior to their spending significant amounts of time and money collecting signatures and educating voters on the issue. I am dedicated to working with the General Assembly to create such a system and will continue looking out for the best interests of all Arkansans to ensure the process is clear and fair.
“Under current state law, I am required as Attorney General to review proposed initiatives to ensure they are not misleading. In determining whether a proposal is misleading, I must follow the very strict standard set forth by the Arkansas Supreme Court in the Lange and Wilson cases from 2016. These Supreme Court decisions require that it be clear to Arkansans what a ‘for’ or ‘against’ vote means.
“Only proposals that I am confident meet the Supreme Court’s stringent test are approved. After I approve the language, citizens must spend a great amount of time and money gathering the required number of signatures to have their proposal placed on the election ballot by the Secretary of State. At this point, opponents of the proposal can ask the Arkansas Supreme Court to strike it down. In its review the Court does not consider my initial approval of the proposal, but instead takes a completely new look at the language. Because such challenges occur very close to the election, proposals rejected by the Arkansas Supreme Court often still appear on the election ballot, adding further confusion for Arkansas voters.
“This is not the best process for Arkansans. Citizens who want to place an initiative on the ballot should not be required to get the language approved by both the Attorney General and the Arkansas Supreme Court. The process for citizens to have initiative language approved should have clear standards and deadlines. Therefore, I call on the General Assembly to create a system during the 2019 legislative session to ensure Arkansans have a clear and fair process to have an initiative to amend the State Constitution placed on the ballot.”
Rutledge Announces Arrest of A Pulaski County Man for Crimes Involving ChildrenWed, May 16, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of a Pulaski County man for crimes involving children.
Justin Axelroth, 38, of Little Rock, was arrested by the Attorney General’s office Cyber Crimes Unit on 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. He is currently being held on bond at the Pulaski County Detention Facility.
Special agents in the Attorney General’s office seized multiple computers, external hard drives and cell phones from the home. The file will be turned over to Sixth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley when completed.
Rutledge Reaches Settlement with Little Rock Candy CompanyWed, May 16, 2018
Says, ‘Treatsie customers will now be made whole’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Treatsie LLC of Little Rock have reached a settlement to resolve allegations that Treatsie continued to sell and advertise subscriptions for their gourmet candy boxes, but failed to deliver hundreds of the boxes, but in some cases, delivered the orders months late. The company also failed to refund subscription costs to customers who did not receive the goods they ordered.
“Treatsie customers will now be made whole with this settlement,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The deceptive business practices of Treatsie and its owners brought financial losses to consumers. I am pleased the company is being held responsible for their bad business practices.”
The consent judgment, which was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, includes $154,644.70 in restitution to consumers, including $4,076.12 for 145 Arkansans. Treatsie will also pay $60,000 in civil penalties, with $50,000 in civil penalties suspended.
Rutledge filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against Treatsie in March. The Better Business Bureau began receiving complaints about the deceptive practices of Treatsie in winter 2015 and Treatsie closed its doors in 2017.
Arkansas Collected Over 28,000 Pounds of Medication at April Take Back DayTue, May 15, 2018
Rutledge says, ‘while cleaning out medicine cabinets may seem like a small move, it will save countless lives’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauds the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s announcement that 28,020 pounds of medication was collected in Arkansas as part of the 949,046 pounds collected nationwide during the semi-annual Prescription Drug Take Back held on Saturday, April 28.
“By turning in more than 28,000 pounds of expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications, Arkansans are keeping those drugs away from those who would abuse them,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas is disproportionately devastated by the ongoing opioid epidemic and while cleaning out medicine cabinets may seem like a small move, it will save countless lives. I appreciate the partnering agencies and law enforcement who repeatedly make Prescription Drug Take Back Day a success, as well as every Arkansan who participated.”
“Due to the commitment, dedication, and effort of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Community, its partners, and the multi-agency coalition, and due to excellent participation by Arkansans in all areas of the state, the take back events have been successful above and beyond all expectations," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA-Little Rock District Office Justin King.
According to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and Medical Examiner’s Office, 401 Arkansans died from drug overdoses in 2016. More than 40 percent of teenagers in Arkansas have tried prescription drugs and more than half of all teens report that it is easy to obtain prescription drugs from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets.
Rutledge partnered on the Prescription Drug Take Back with the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Days are held twice a year, but year-round drop-off locations can be found on the updated ARTakeBack.org. The Attorney General’s Office also partners with local law enforcement to host take back events at mobile offices around the State. Since 2016, 570.8 pounds of prescription drugs have been collected and safely disposed of at Attorney General’s Office mobile offices – keeping them out of the hands of children and those with addictions.
Prescription Drug Take Back days are just one step in Rutledge’s multi-faceted approach to ending the opioid crisis. Rutledge is also suing the opioid manufacturers who created the crisis in Arkansas for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act. Last fall Rutledge launched Prescription for Life, a first-in-the-nation educational tool offered at no cost to all high school students in the State to help them understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. To date, it has been launched in 57 schools across 50 counties and reached over 6,000 students with an additional 24 schools committed to launch the program this fall. Each year, Rutledge partners with a number of agencies in hosting the Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit, a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators.
Rutledge Announces Pulaski County Woman Sentenced for Medicaid FraudTue, May 15, 2018
Says, ‘Shavita Wilson took advantage of a vital safety net for many Arkansans’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Pulaski County woman on Medicaid fraud charges.
Shavita Wilson pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud in Pulaski County Circuit Court. She was sentenced to 3 years probation and must pay $600 in fines and court costs. Wilson has already paid $5,000 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund.
“Shavita Wilson took advantage of a vital safety net for many Arkansans and is now paying for the crime she committed,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Abusing the Medicaid system is unacceptable and harms the Arkansans who depend on it for important care. The Attorney General’s Office will continue to investigate and prosecute these crimes to hold those who take advantage of the Medicaid system accountable for their actions.”
Wilson, 46, of Little Rock, pleaded guilty to one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class C felony, for making false statements while applying for payments from the Arkansas Medicaid Program.
This case was referred to the MFCU by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services and prosecuted in coordination with Sixth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, complete the online form at ArkansasAG.gov, call the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutledge Supports President Trump’s Withdrawal of Harmful Livestock and Poultry RuleTue, May 15, 2018
Says, ‘We must continue to fight federal overreach and protect our farmers from burdensome regulations’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined 15 other state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief supporting the Trump Administration’s withdrawal of the Obama-era 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule. The states argue in the brief that the Rule, adopted on the last day of the Obama Administration, was both illegal and economically unjustifiable.
“The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule is yet another example of the Obama Administration’s aggressive overreach and I applaud President Trump for removing this unnecessary regulation,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We must continue to fight federal overreach and protect our farmers from burdensome regulations that only harm consumers by driving up food prices.”
The 1990 Organic Foods Production Act was intended to impose specific feed and medicinal production standards for “USDA certified organic” products. In sharp contrast, the 2017 Rule focused almost entirely on animal care and living conditions, imposing stringent requirements that poultry have access to outdoor soil in order to fall under the label of “USDA certified organic.” The brief argues that the Obama USDA did not have statutory authority to enact animal-welfare regulations about outdoor access under the guise of regulating organic foods.
Additionally, economic analysis demonstrates that this regulation would have been extremely harmful for small organic farmers and consumers. The high cost of complying with this rule would have likely driven many out of the organic farming business, leading to an estimated loss of $80-86 billion. Consumers would face rising costs for organic products and reduced choices for those products.
Led by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, Rutledge is joined on the brief by attorneys general from Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.