Rutledge Statement on the Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme CourtMon, Jul 9, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Donald J. Trump.
“Once again, President Donald Trump has appointed one of the country’s top legal minds to serve on the nation’s highest court,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Judge Kavanaugh currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. and has worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, at the Justice Department and even clerked for Justice Kennedy. Judge Kavanaugh has continuously supported reigning in the over-regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama Administration, as well as deeming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unconstitutional. His legal experience and educational background make him an exceptional choice by the President and one that I fully support. I know Judge Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice will continue to protect the liberties of all Americans.”
Rutledge Announces #MissingPersonMondays OutreachMon, Jul 9, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the launch of #MissingPersonMondays in coordination with stakeholders and law enforcement agencies from throughout Arkansas. The social media campaign will highlight one individual listed on the NeverForgotten.ar.gov site every Monday throughout the year using various social media platforms.
“Missing Person Mondays is a direct result of last year’s Never Forgotten event,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Last year, I hosted a listening session for families of missing persons to provide input and guidance on how the law enforcement community could better work with families as they deal with the difficult and emotional process of searching for their loved ones. In collaboration with many stakeholders, this social media campaign will uniformly highlight one missing person every Monday and drive traffic to the NeverForgotten.ar.gov site, where there are over 500 of our state’s missing persons listed. I strongly believe that someone, somewhere knows something about each of these missing persons cases, and this is just one of many ways we can shine light on these cases to bring information and hope to the families and law enforcement.”
Each weekly announcement will be posted on the Arkansas Attorney General’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, in addition to each of the stakeholder sites. The post will include a photograph of the missing person, the date they went missing, place last seen and the social media handle for the law enforcement agencies investigating the case. To launch the program, Anthony (Tony) Allen, the longest listed missing person from Arkansas, will be the first featured by the program and the following weeks will include other individuals in chronological order by date last seen.
In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, committee stakeholders include: Arkansas Crime Information Center, Arkansas Governor’s Office, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, Arkansas State Crime Lab, Arkansas State Police, Criminal Justice Institute, FBI, Morgan Nick Foundation, NamUs, David Clark and Henry La Mar.
For more information on missing persons in Arkansas, please visit NeverForgotten.ar.gov.
ICYMI: Religious conscience must be protectedMon, Jul 2, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Sunday, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge emphasizing the importance of religious freedoms, appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Independence Day is more than fireworks and barbecue. It is a wonderful time for Americans to reflect on the true foundations of our great country. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has reminded us of one of the most fundamental of those ideas: Americans should not be forced to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs against their conscience.
As attorney general, it is my duty to prioritize and defend the rule of law, including our constitutional rights. Over the past few years I have been closely engaged in several legal cases that touch at the heart of Americans' fundamental right of freedom of speech.
Last week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) by striking down a California law that required crisis pregnancy centers to provide information on abortions, a position that was contrary to their religious beliefs. The Court found that California lacked justification to force pro-life entities and counselors to speak a message with which they disagreed. The Court, therefore, invalidated California's attempt to force pregnancy centers--entities specifically set up to provide an alternative to abortion clinics--to post large advertisements providing information on the existence of free and low-cost abortions.
Likewise, in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court criticized and ruled against a state agency that appeared to be penalizing the thoughts and speech of religious persons. It found that Colorado's Civil Rights Commission failed to give consideration to the religious-based reasons that prompted a baker to refuse to design and bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Since the baker designs cakes for LGBT clients for occasions other than marriage, the Court found the Civil Rights Commission to be unnecessarily hostile to and dismissive of the baker's religious objections.
Justice Kennedy's majority opinion was particularly concerned that the baker's religious reason for refusing to design a cake for a same-sex wedding was treated more harshly than the Commission treated non-religious reasons for not designing cakes given by other bakers in other cases. The Court found that the differing standard of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission disfavored religion and persons of religious conviction.
The lessons that emerge from these cases are the same lessons about our Constitutional rights taught in civics classes around the country. Each of these cases is about liberty of conscience--the inability of the government to dictate how citizens think and feel without punishment for believing something different than others believe.
Retiring Justice Kennedy, in one of his final concurrences, scolded the California Legislature for its self-proclaimed "forward thinking" by forcing individual speech and beliefs. He suggested the state gain historical perspective on the Founders' foresight for the First Amendment created during a time of suffocating "authoritarian regimes." Ultimately, a liberal state's policies should never insult the beliefs of religious persons and require such persons to act contrary to those beliefs in a misguided attempt to purify society of such beliefs.
Based on its decision in Masterpiece, the Supreme Court has already sent another religious liberty case, in which I led a multi-state supporting effort, back to the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider. Arlene's Flowers is facing massive state fines for refusing to design unique and artistic floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding despite the owner's history of serving LGBT customers for other occasions.
The state Supreme Court's decision to punish the owner for refusing to use her artistic talents to celebrate a message that violates her religious beliefs should meet with the same fate as the state of Colorado's position in Masterpiece. I similarly led another multi-state effort to support a small business owner of faith in Kentucky. In that case, Hands-On Originals, a small family-owned T-shirt company, is being punished by the state for refusing to design shirts supporting a gay pride parade. Thus far, the owner has prevailed, and it is my hope that after Masterpiece, the Kentucky Supreme Court will rule that the state may not force a person to write something that conflicts with his or her core beliefs.
Each of these cases is about conscience, the ability for a person to refrain from doing or speaking against deeply held beliefs. These cases are not about same-sex marriage or LGBT rights. No one thinks it would be acceptable for a state to force someone to make a proclamation of faith. Why should anyone be forced by a state to make a proclamation that is in opposition of their faith?
I am proud of these recent victories as they underscore our founding principles to ensure liberty for all Americans. Protecting opposite viewpoints--even when we disagree with them--is as important now as it was on that first Independence Day.
Rutledge Announces Arrest of Little Rock Man for Medicaid FraudFri, Jun 29, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a Pulaski County man for scamming $2.2 million from the Arkansas Medicaid Program.
“Robin Raveendran, a known Medicaid expert, knew how to exploit the program for self benefit,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “He took advantage of a system which provides important care to Arkansans by misrepresenting more than 20,000 services totaling over $2 million. As Attorney General, it is important for me to hold criminals accountable in order to deter future fraud within the Medicaid system.”
Robin Raveendran, 62, of Little Rock, was arrested by agents with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Thursday night, and transported to Independence County. He is charged with two counts of Medicaid fraud, one Class A felony and one Class B felony. He is accused of coordinating an effort which reimbursed his company for 20,109 illegally billed mental health services for a total of $2,277,816.05 from January 1, 2015 to October 19, 2017.
Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. 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.
Arkansans can report public corruption to the Public Integrity Division by calling 833-45-TRUST (833-458-7878) or email ARTrust@arkansasag.gov.
Rutledge Announces Formation of Public Integrity DivisionWed, Jun 27, 2018
2 investigators assigned – will join Public Corruption Task Force
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the creation of the Public Integrity Division of the Special Investigations Department at the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
“Not only will this new Division punish violations of the public trust and compensate the loss of taxpayer funds through fines and restitution, it will join the FBI and Arkansas State Police in the Public Corruption Task Force,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “You do not check your ethics at the door when you take a position of public trust. When people abuse the public’s trust to steal from Arkansans, they must be held accountable for their actions.”
“We stand committed to the citizens of Arkansas in our efforts to reduce and eradicate public corruption in our state,” said Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Little Rock, “This new partnership between our agencies will help strengthen our commitments to the citizens of Arkansas to root out those individuals involved in public corruption.”
Attorney General Rutledge is using the already existing structure of the Special Investigations Department and assigning two additional law enforcement officers to work exclusively on public integrity issues. These positions are open investigator positions within the office’s existing budget.
The Public Corruption Task Force is leveraging the best assets of the Attorney General’s office, the FBI and State Police. The Attorney General’s office is designated by law with the statewide law enforcement jurisdiction and authority to prosecute corruption in conjunction with local prosecutors.
Rutledge Applauds SCOTUS Ruling Protecting Public Employees’ First Amendment RightsWed, Jun 27, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauded the Supreme Court of the United States decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
“The United States Supreme Court has once again stood up for the First Amendment and against forcing public employees to pay money to unions that promote political messages and workplace policies with which those employees disagree,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I was pleased to submit an amicus brief to the Court on this significant case and was very glad to learn the Court agreed with our arguments.”