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Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Arizona’s Driver’s License Policy

Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Arizona’s Driver’s License Policy

Fri, May 12, 2017

Says, ‘If the 9th Circuit’s decision is allowed to stand then it appears any president can pre-empt any state law through an executive order’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge recently joined with 13 other states to file an amicus brief in support of the petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Arizona’s right to deny driver’s licenses to undocumented illegal aliens.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will force Arizona to issue driver’s licenses to people granted federal work permits through the Obama administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program. In February, six dissenting judges on the full 9th Circuit wrote that the court’s decision against Arizona’s driver’s license policy creates “a world where the president really can pre-empt state laws with the stroke of a pen.”

“DACA is no more lawful now than when the Obama administration announced it in 2012,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Congress has not amended immigration law to include DACA, yet the 9th Circuit, in its effort to legislate what it wants Congress to do, is forcing the State of Arizona to issue driver’s licenses to unlawful aliens. If the 9th Circuit’s decision is allowed to stand, then it appears any president can pre-empt any state law through an executive order.”

Arkansas joined a coalition in December 2014, at the request of then Attorney General-elect Rutledge, challenging the previous administration’s unilateral action on immigration, which the president claimed numerous times he did not have the authority to do. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction blocking the executive order in November 2015.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed briefs last March asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit’s rulings on DACA. In 2014, the court refused to intervene in the case.

Led by the State of Texas, Arkansas is joined on the brief by attorneys general from Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.

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Rutledge Statement on the Passing of Yell County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Kevin Mainhart

Rutledge Statement on the Passing of Yell County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Kevin Mainhart

Thu, May 11, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement in response to the line of duty shooting death of Yell County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Kevin Mainhart.

“Anytime a member of law enforcement falls in the line of duty, our hearts are broken,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today, the State of Arkansas mourns the loss of Yell County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Kevin Mainhart. As an officer of the law, Lt. Mainhart began his day with one mission: to protect and serve the people of his community. While today will mark his end of watch, he never wavered in his steadfast commitment and responsibility to safeguard his neighbors from harm. As Arkansas’s chief law enforcement officer, I extend my thoughts and prayers to Lt. Mainhart’s family, friends and brothers and sisters in law enforcement across our State, as well as the others who have been injured, brutally attacked and killed in today’s tragic incident in Chickalah.”

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Rutledge Selects New Leadership for Public Protection

Rutledge Selects New Leadership for Public Protection

Wed, May 10, 2017

Names Chuck Harder as deputy attorney general

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today named Chuck Harder of Benton as deputy attorney general for the Public Protection Department and Sarah Page Tacker of Conway as senior assistant attorney general of the Consumer Utility Rate Advocacy Division and Environmental Division, as well as Shawn Johnson of Little Rock as senior assistant attorney general of the Consumer Protection Division.

“Protecting Arkansans is my top priority,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “With Chuck, Sarah and Shawn leading this critical department, I know that this office will continue to fight scam artists and bad businesses, advocate for lower utility rates, represent agencies charged with protecting the State’s clean air and water and appropriately administer and enforce the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. The people of Arkansas will be well-served with these qualified, experienced attorneys fighting for them every day, and I am proud to have them as part of my administration.”

Harder, with 28 years of experience in the energy industry, becomes deputy attorney general of Public Protection after having served as assistant attorney general in the Consumer Utility Rate Advocacy Division. He was the vice president of regulatory and government affairs for SourceGas LLC where he was responsible for regulatory and legislative strategy, policies, processes, tariffs, compliance and relationships at the federal, State and local levels. Before joining SourceGas, Harder held legal and regulatory leadership positions at CenterPoint Energy Inc. where he led many successful regulatory and legislative initiatives in six states and at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Harder currently serves on the advisory boards of the New Mexico State University Center for Public Utilities and the Financial Research Institute. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and business from Hendrix College in Conway and a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Harder is both an attorney and a certified public accountant.

Tacker has been named senior assistant attorney general of the Consumer Utility Rate Advocacy Division, as well as the Environmental Division after having previously served as an assistant attorney general and a senior assistant attorney general of the Consumer Protection Division. Tacker is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

Johnson, a native of Fort Smith, is the senior assistant attorney general of the Consumer Protection Division. He was previously an assistant attorney general within the same division. He joined the office in 2008 after working as an associate at Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard PLLC and clerking for U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson. Johnson is a graduate of Hendrix College and the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Public Protection consists of four divisions: Consumer Protection, which fights deceptive trade practices, mediates disputes between consumers and businesses, and oversees charities registration; Consumer Utilities Rate Advocacy, which is the voice of consumers as it relates to public utilities; Environmental, which represents the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Pollution, Control & Ecology Commission and challenges rules that adversely affect the State; and Tobacco, which administers the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

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Seeks Expansion of Medicaid Fraud Authority

Rutledge Seeks Expansion of Medicaid Fraud Authority to Investigate Resident Abuse

Wed, May 10, 2017

Joins 37 other attorneys general in letter to Health of Human Services Secretary

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has sent a letter today urging Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price to grant greater authority to State attorneys general, allowing them to use federal funds to prosecute and investigate a wider range of Medicaid abuse and neglect cases, including those that happen in homes.

“Regulations have restricted the use of federal funds in ways that hamper my ability to thoroughly investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries to the fullest extent of the law,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “No one should live through mistreatment, and I am committed as the State’s top law enforcement officer to holding individuals accountable whether that abuse takes place in an institution or non-institutional setting.”

In the letter, signed by 38 attorneys general, Rutledge and her colleagues write, “The current strict federal limitations on states’ ability to use MFCU assets to investigate abuse and neglect are outdated, arbitrarily restrict our ability to protect Medicaid beneficiaries from abuse and neglect as Congress intended and should be replaced or eliminated.”

The letter calls on Secretary Price to allow MFCU federal funds to be used to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries in non-institutional settings and to allow funds to freely screen or review any and all complaints or reports of whatever type, in whatever setting.

Led by attorneys general from Connecticut and Kansas, Rutledge is joined on the letter by attorneys general from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

In January, Rutledge announced that the MFCU had obtained more Medicaid fraud convictions and opened more criminal investigations in 2016 than ever before. In 2015, the MFCU set a record with 14 Medicaid fraud convictions and 108 opened criminal investigations. In 2016, Medicaid fraud convictions increased to 17 and the MFCU opened a record 112 criminal investigations, which brought the total Medicaid fraud convictions during the Rutledge administration to 31 in 24 months.

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. There are times that Medicaid residents, especially the elderly, are physically and sexually abused or neglected by health care workers. Physical abuse or neglect includes anything from striking to sexually assaulting a resident to withholding necessary and adequate food, physical care or medical attention. Financial abuse includes the misuse of a resident’s trust funds to pay for nursing home services already being paid for by the Medicaid program or for uses of a resident’s funds not authorized by the resident or the resident’s guardian, trustee or administrator.

To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, submit a confidential online form or contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

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Rutledge Announces 6th Annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action Event

Rutledge Announces 6th Annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action Event

Tue, May 9, 2017

Registration is available for July 10 event in Benton

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event on Monday, July 10 at the Benton Event Center. The event was established to raise awareness of the challenges associated with missing persons cases and recognize Arkansas’s missing children and adults.

“Most of us will never know the pain of going through life with a missing loved one, but there are numerous families across Arkansas who live that hurt every day,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Never Forgotten event presents an important time for these families to come together, remember their loved ones and lift each other up. This year’s event also offers new, important training opportunities for law enforcement who are a critical element to helping solve these difficult cases.”

From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., a panel discussion will be held for the families of missing persons on available resources to assist them with locating their loved one. Participating agencies include Arkansas State Police, Arkansas State Crime Lab, Arkansas Crime Information Center, FBI, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Missing and Unidentified Missing Persons System.

At the same time as the family session, a law enforcement training will be held from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wayne Ruthven, a consultant with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, will provide local officers with an update on a program being created to coordinate efforts to assist children who become separated from their families as a result of a disaster. The Attorney General’s office and several other Arkansas agencies meet monthly to develop an action plan, coordinated by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, as part of two- to three-year pilot program. The program is intended to serve as a national model.

Officers will also hear from Gay Smither, president of the Laura Recovery Center. Smither’s 12-year-old daughter, Laura, went missing during a jog in Friendswood, Texas, on April 3, 1997. Her body was located 17 days later. Laura’s death led to the creation of the Laura Recovery Center, an organization that helps families and law enforcement agencies on missing child cases. The center has assisted with more than 1,700 cases and participated in more than 100 active searches. Accused serial killer William Reece was indicted Sept. 1, 2016, in the deaths of Laura and 17-year-old Jessica Cain, who disappeared Aug. 17, 1997.

The officer training session will conclude with a presentation from Lori Mcllwain, co-founder of the National Autism Association. Mcllwain will discuss autism, including a brief overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder, wandering and its unique dangers. Best practices for prevention and response to reduce risk will be discussed, along with findings and insights from six years of autism and wandering data that has been collected.

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.

Representatives from the FBI, National Unidentified and Missing Persons System, Morgan Nick Foundation, State Crime Lab and Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigations Division will be available to assist families as part of the missing persons initiative.

Last year, Rutledge was part of a collaborative effort to launch a new website, NeverForgotten.ar.gov, which enables the public to access information on missing persons cases with an easy-to-use searchable database.

Every service offered at the event is free.

Registration can be found at ArkansasAG.gov. The Attorney General’s office has applied for three hours of Continuing Law Enforcement Education (CLEST).

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 oag@arkansasag.gov. To reach the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Cyber Tipline, call (800) THE-LOST (843-5678).

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Attorney General’s Office to Host Summer Cyber Safety Series

Attorney General’s Office to Host Summer Cyber Safety Series

Fri, May 5, 2017

Offering 5 regional classes for educators

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host a Summer Cyber Series of regional trainings on internet safety for teachers and parents across the State, in order to reach more children and students. By training teachers on how to implement lessons about staying safe online in their classrooms and updating parents on the newest apps and technologies their children may be using, the Attorney General’s office is providing more resources to protect students from online dangers.

In 2016, Rutledge teamed up with Common Sense Media and AT&T to adopt the Digital You training program, which offers tools, tips, apps and guidance about staying safe online for people of all levels of online experience. The Attorney General’s office is now offering regional train-the-trainer opportunities using the comprehensive, interactive educational program. Rutledge believes this will help the program reach more students across the State and empower teachers with the additional, in-depth knowledge of internet safety.

“By providing teachers and parents with more tools to teach our young people about the importance of being safe and smart online, this program can reach every student in Arkansas,” said Rutledge. “The Digital You program provides lessons for students of all ages, and my office can provide additional resources, like coloring and activity books, to reinforce the lessons.”

The Summer Cyber Series with Digital You trainings will take place at educational cooperatives in Northwest Arkansas on June 5, Northeast Arkansas on June 8, Central Arkansas on June 20, Southwest Arkansas on July 13 and Southeast Arkansas on July 22. Those interested in participating can find more details and register ArkansasAG.gov.

In 2016, more than 22,700 Arkansans learned about internet safety through the Attorney General’s Rutledge Resources Days, held in all 75 counties. During Rutledge Resources Days, the office conducts mobile offices; drops off materials at local schools, police stations and libraries; and gives presentations on internet safety, identity theft, dating violence prevention and common scams. Last year the office also provided training to more than 5,000 Arkansans by conducting webcasts and by hosting large events, such as Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action to support families of missing persons, the Arkansas Law Enforcement Summit and the Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit.

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