Rutledge Calls to Expand Anti-Robocall ResponseThu, May 7, 2020
Bipartisan Coalition of Attorneys General Send USTelecom Letter Outlining Plan to Strengthen Illegal Robocall Enforcement
Rutledge announced the effort to expand illegal robocall response by calling on USTelecom – the leading organization representing telecommunications providers – and its Industry Traceback Group (ITG) to continue its collaboration with a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general by bolstering technological capabilities to improve enforcement against illegal robocallers. The coalition’s letter urged the association to further develop robocall traceback and other tools suited for law enforcement needs.
“This partnership between the public sector and private industry is critical to stopping these illegal scam calls,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I’m proud to have led the effort to develop Arkansas’s relationship with telecom providers. We now need to build on our accomplishments and develop resources to stop these incessant calls and to hold those accountable who are stealing from Arkansans.”
The letter asks USTelecom to advance the ITG’s abilities in identifying robocall campaigns, trends and business ecosystems; conducting automated traceback investigations and coordinating with relevant law enforcement agencies.
A key part would be for USTelecom to develop and roll out an online platform to collect live data from carriers and robocall-blocking apps. When USTelecom or a law enforcement agency detects an illegal robocall campaign, the law enforcement agency would then be able to submit a subpoena to USTelecom in a streamlined online portal. The process would allow for rapid review by USTelecom and provide law enforcement agencies the ability to expedite subpoena procedures and access the platform to quickly retrieve relevant data. The platform would bolster law enforcement investigations and could potentially lead to attorneys general offices issuing temporary restraining orders that could stop a live robocall campaign in its tracks. The coalition believes these measures would strengthen the partnership between the USTelecom-backed ITG and attorneys general, a relationship that led to the creation of the Anti-Robocall Principles.
Rutledge has paved the way for telephone carriers to aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers through ongoing collaborations with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), telecom industry representatives and a coalition of state attorneys general. Rutledge urged the passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which enables the industry to develop call-authentication protocols to combat caller-ID spoofing and implement other sweeping anti-robocall measures, and demanded the FCC take expedient action in the Truth in Caller ID Act rulemaking process against illegal spoofing. Rutledge was also instrumental in developing the Anti-Robocall Principles for telecoms to reduce the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people, which were adopted by 51 attorneys general and 12 major telecom providers in August 2019.
In Arkansas, Rutledge continues to lead the fight against robocalls by working with state legislators to pass and implement laws requiring telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.
ICYMI: Rutledge Op-Ed: Be their VoiceThu, Apr 30, 2020
In case you missed it...
Be their voice
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
By: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
April 30, 2020
April is normally a time when I look forward to the gloomy clouds of winter being replaced with the brilliant sunshine and bright flowers of spring, but this April looks very different from the past. While we are usually united in our battles against allergies and pollen, this year we are all battling something new, disruptive and deadly.
Families are fighting to protect their most vulnerable loved ones, health-care providers are fighting for basic needs to take care of themselves and their patients, small businesses are fighting to stay afloat, recently laid-off workers are fighting to find income, and as always, our first responders are fearlessly fighting on the front lines against this new and invisible foe.
Every day it is on the front of our minds and the top of the news. My husband and I have our 21-month-old daughter and his 88-year-old mom at home, so like many of you, we aren't taking any unnecessary chances.
So why am I telling you something you already know? Because I want to challenge you to think about what you don't know or don't want to know. April is child abuse awareness month, but again, this April is very different.
So I ask you: Who is fighting for the children? The kids who may be sheltered at home but are not sheltered from abuse. Think about the children whose only daily comfort has been in a classroom or on a big yellow bus with a responsible adult. The principals, teachers, counselors and bus drivers are usually the first to notice when something is off with one of their kids, and they report it immediately. My heart breaks and my blood boils when I think about those precious children who don't get to interact with their guardian angels every day.
I wish every child grew up in a loving home as I did, and that every parent would love their child as much as I love mine, but that simply is not the case. My heart is heavy for those victims. The recipe for abuse is currently ripe with toxic ingredients: unemployment, financial and emotional stress, close confinement, and the rambunctious boredom of innocent kids that can unintentionally spark the fury of evil.
Child abuse is way too prevalent in the Natural State. In Arkansas, there are more than 9,000 cases of physical or sexual abuse against a child every year, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that only one out of 10 child abuse cases are even reported. And with so many dangerous adults being secluded at home with children all day and night who are cut off from their protectors, how many more victims will we have?
Arkansans, you are the neighbor, the relative, or the family friend that could be the saving grace to an abused child. Keep an open eye and attentive ear for something that might seem off or doesn't "seem quite right," and if you see something, say something! The Special Agents at the Attorney General's Office, local law enforcement and the Arkansas State Police are working and ready to respond.
Our responsibility is greater than ever during this unusual time to be the voice for the voiceless. If you suspect child abuse, report it to the Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 482-5964 and save a child's life.
Rutledge Files PBM Reply Brief with U.S. Supreme CourtFri, Apr 24, 2020
Says, ‘it’s time for states to have the tools they need to ensure that prescription drug prices are affordable’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed a reply brief with the United States Supreme Court in Arkansas’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association. In this case, Rutledge seeks to protect rural Arkansas’s small businesses and save community pharmacies from abusive PBM payment practices. The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in late-April but arguments were postponed until the fall as a result of COVID-19.
“Our case to protect Arkansans and local pharmacies has such broad-based support that we are looking forward to the opportunity to present our case before the highest Court,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In the midst of the economic hardship caused by the pandemic, it’s time for states to have the tools they need to ensure that prescription drug prices are affordable while protecting their frontline healthcare providers.”
In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 900 to regulate PBM—the drug middlemen that reimburse pharmacists for prescription drugs. Before Act 900’s enactment, PBMs regularly paid pharmacies less than it costs pharmacies to acquire generic drugs while pocketing a hefty profit. That abusive market practice had caused more than 16 percent of rural pharmacies nationwide to close in recent years.
Rutledge’s petition was granted by the U.S. Supreme Court January 2019. Rutledge’s briefs have been supported by the U.S. Solicitor General and a bipartisan, 45-state coalition led by California.
Rutledge Brings 3,000 Facemasks to Arkansas Law Enforcement and First RespondersThu, Apr 23, 2020
Says, ‘with this health crisis it is even more important for us to use every resource to protect those who protect us’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Sherwin-Williams will donate 3,000 N95 facemasks to law enforcement and first responders in the State of Arkansas. At the Attorney General’s request, the personal protective equipment (PPE) will be allocated to the Association of Arkansas Counties and the Arkansas Municipal League who will disperse them at the local level.
“Arkansas law enforcement and first responders already work in high-risk environments and with this health crisis it is even more important for us to use every resource to protect those who protect us,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Thank you to Sherwin-Williams for recognizing the needs of our law enforcement officers and first responders. In the future I hope more businesses will be in a position to work with our State and local leaders to protect all of those who protect us.”
“Sherwin-Williams salutes Arkansas law enforcement and first responders who remain committed to protecting and supporting their communities during this health crisis. We’re pleased to donate protective masks at this challenging time, and we thank Attorney General Rutledge for her efforts in rapidly distributing this critical equipment to those with the greatest need,” said Jim Jaye, SVP Corporate Communications at Sherwin-Williams. “We also thank our employees, who every day, make it possible for Sherwin-Williams to continue supporting communities across the country.”
Since the COVID19 public health emergency declaration on March 11, Rutledge has allocated $1 million to the State to acquire personal protective equipment for medical personnel and $3 million to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Quick Action Loan Program for small businesses. Rutledge has worked with Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Facebook to combat price gouging and the Attorney General’s Office has received over 12,000 phone calls on price gouging.
Arkansans needing to report price gouging or scams should visit the Attorney General’s Office at ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
Rutledge Successfully Defends Moratorium on Surgical Abortions During COVID-19 EmergencyWed, Apr 22, 2020
Says, ‘this decision affirms that surgical abortions do not get special treatment’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to dissolve U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker’s temporary restraining order. Judge Baker created an exemption for surgical abortions from the Arkansas Department of Health’s April 3, 2020 directive mandating that all non-medically necessary surgeries be postponed while the COVID-19 emergency is ongoing. With the Eighth Circuit’s decision, there is no longer a judge-made exemption for surgical abortions. Every non-medically necessary surgery must be postponed. The Eighth Circuit also confirmed the procedurally suspect nature of allowing abortion providers to hand-pick the judge that hear their cases.
“All medically unnecessary surgeries must be postponed, and this decision affirms that surgical abortions do not get special treatment,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Eighth Circuit agreed with Arkansas that the district court committed a clear abuse of discretion in creating a carve-out from state law for surgical abortions.”
Rutledge’s Statement on Jefferson Regional Medical Provider’s Death from COVID-19Sun, Apr 19, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following the news of a Jefferson Regional medical provider who passed away due to COVID-19.
“It was devastating to learn today that Arkansas has lost its first health-care worker as a result of this pandemic,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In this time of uncertainty, I send my prayers to the family, friends and community at Jefferson Regional for the medical provider who sacrificed everything to serve and protect patients. I ask everyone in the State to take a moment to prayerfully thank those medical providers who are continuing to serve and protect Arkansans as we fight this together.”