Rutledge Applauds Court’s Dismissal of Frivolous Lawsuit by Jim BakkerFri, Aug 28, 2020
Say, ‘will not be deterred from the important job of protecting Arkansas consumers from fraudulent and deceptive claims’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauds the decision dismissing a lawsuit against the State of Arkansas, filed by Jim Bakker and his production company, Morningside Church Productions, Inc., which conducts business as The Jim Bakker Show. The decision issued in a U.S. District Court underscores Rutledge’s determination to investigate fraud regardless of its form or its guise. More importantly, the decision shows that Rutledge cannot be bullied in her investigations of fraud by a party simply rushing to the courthouse to sue her or the State of Arkansas. Rutledge has a separate lawsuit against Jim Bakker and his production company in the Arkansas Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for falsely telling Arkansas consumers that colloidal silver products would cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate COVID-19.
“Jim Bakker’s attempts to distract my office by filing a federal lawsuit failed. We will not be deterred from the important job of protecting Arkansas consumers from fraudulent and deceptive claims,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will not tolerate illegal schemes used by Mr. Bakker that directly harm Arkansas consumers financially or physically. Bakker has historically cloaked his illegal action in the name of religion, yet he continues to deceive Arkansans for his own glory and wealth by peddling unsafe and ineffective potions as a cure for COVID-19.”
Approximately 385 Arkansans made purchases from Bakker’s company totaling approximately $60,524 for colloidal silver products between January 1 and March 9, 2020.
In February 2020, The Jim Bakker Show hosted Sherrill Sellman who falsely claimed the colloidal silver products hawked by Jim Bakker were “proven by the government to have the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV… .” Both Bakker and Sellman have separately received warning letters from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for selling unapproved drugs to cure or prevent COVID-19. The FDA had previously stated that silver products are not scientifically recognized to be safe and effective.
Rutledge is urging all consumers who have purchased products from Bakker or Sellman to contact the office immediately at (800) 482- 8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
ICYMI | Rutledge Op-Ed: Guns, the NRA and the Second Amendment are under assault from the leftMon, Aug 24, 2020
Guns, the NRA and the Second Amendment are under assault from the left
By: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
August 21, 2020
In the midst of a challenging pandemic, many American cities have been under siege. Amid violence and riots, the rule of law has been abandoned by the same elected officials who swore to uphold it. Law-abiding citizens who unwittingly drove through protests have found themselves attacked or left to the mercy of a mob.
The promotion of civil unrest and the systematic destruction of neighborhoods and businesses have been permitted with limited consequences under the guise of the First Amendment’s protection of the right to protest. Yet when the case for protecting the Second Amendment couldn’t be stronger to reasonable Americans, the left is yet again trying to weaken it.
As Americans, our constitutional rights and individual liberties are not just a source of patriotic pride but the lifeblood of our democracy. The founders knew that the right of citizens to bear arms was essential to the preservation of democracy and liberty. The Second Amendment ensures that Americans can protect themselves, their families and their businesses, especially when the government is unwilling or unable to do so. And many Americans are indeed now choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights; a national indicator for gun sales is at an all-time high.
The left has long attacked the Second Amendment, as they believe it is antiquated and unnecessary, and have assured us they can protect us better than we can protect ourselves. But in a time of crisis, many of them have revealed that they won’t actually use law enforcement and even support defunding the agencies that protect and serve all communities. Now they are attacking a private organization that’s trying to do the same.
Just three months before a presidential election, New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed suit against the NRA and several members of its leadership, seeking to have the gun rights organization dissolved. This lawsuit, filed in New York state court, is the apex of a longstanding feud between the NRA and the Democratic state attorney general. James attacked the NRA while she was a candidate for attorney general, calling it a “terrorist organization” and a “criminal enterprise.”
James knows that if the NRA were dissolved, it would be a huge personal and political victory, as the Democrats would finally be able to silence the largest Second Amendment and gun safety advocate in the country. The NRA promotes responsible and safe firearm ownership and self-defense, and it encourages favorite pastimes like hunting and recreational shooting. That’s a staple of life for folks like us in Arkansas, and a far cry from James’ nefarious “terrorist organization” and “criminal enterprise” labels.
As state attorneys general, we are tasked with protecting the interests of consumers and holding bad actors accountable. Since the NRA is based in New York, James’ office has the jurisdiction to investigate this organization, like any other charity or nonprofit. But while the lawsuit alleges that NRA leadership misused the organization’s funds for their own personal gain, no NRA executives have been charged with any crimes, though James has threatened criminal charges pending the outcome of her office’s investigation.
Moreover, James doesn’t seem to be too worried about protecting the interests of the “consumer”: those who are NRA members. If successful, the lawsuit could permanently bar the strongest Second Amendment advocate from raising funds for its cause and ultimately dissolve the multimillion member organization. Instead of holding the alleged bad actors accountable, James seems to believe she has found a way to finally rid the left of one of its greatest political adversaries — and, possibly, its least favorite constitutional amendment.
However, like any good defender of freedom, the NRA is fighting back. The same day New York filed its state suit, the NRA filed its own lawsuit in federal court, pointing to then-candidate James’ campaign promise to “take on the NRA” if elected. The NRA claims that James’ lawsuit is nothing more than a politically motivated stunt to deliver on that promise — not a response to any real fraud.
The NRA’s lawsuit is based on the First Amendment and similar New York state law. The NRA argues that it is being targeted for its pro-Second Amendment advocacy and that James’ request to dissolve the NRA is nothing more than an attempt to silence political speech. The NRA is also asking the federal court to stop James from interfering with its free-speech rights and to declare that the NRA is in substantial compliance with New York not-for-profit law.
So, is this lawsuit really about the NRA, or does it represent a bigger agenda of the left? While the suit may be a great political rallying cry for James in New York and other liberal arenas heading into the November election, the rest of us see this lawsuit for what it truly is: a deliberate attack on the Second Amendment and those of us who support it.
I understand the importance and duty of attorneys general to investigate allegations of corruption and fraud, but James’ eagerness to dissolve the entire organization rather than to hold potential bad actors accountable speaks volumes about her real motives. The left has worked tirelessly to rewrite history, but we will not and cannot allow it to try to rewrite the Constitution.
Rutledge Applauds Overdue Arkansas Hate Crime LegislationWed, Aug 19, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement following the announcement of a legislative proposal to make hate crime illegal during the 2021 legislative session.
“It is past time that Arkansas joins the rest of the country and takes an unequivocal stance against hate crimes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I applaud the members of the General Assembly for taking action on this issue and I will work with any legislator to pass a law that ensures we will not tolerate hate in The Natural State.”
Rutledge has long been a supporter of hate crime legislation in Arkansas, one of only three states which has not adopted such a law. At the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Summer Conference in August 2019, Rutledge again called on the legislature to act and applauded Governor Hutchinson’s efforts asking Arkansas lawmakers to do the same.
ICYMI | Rutledge Op-Ed: Need for SpeedMon, Aug 17, 2020
Need for Speed
By: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
August 15, 2020
Arkansas businesses and residents are more reliant than ever on high-speed Internet, particularly given the circumstances we all find ourselves living in with the covid-19 pandemic. From remote learning to working from home to vital telemedicine services, broadband connectivity has never been as important as it is today.
Yet not everyone has access to sufficient high-speed broadband Internet speeds. It's time to change that and make Arkansas first in broadband access.
As our nation seeks to rebuild a bruised and battered economy, it is critical that elected officials from Little Rock to D.C. prioritize the investment into broadband expansion. All Arkansans and Americans should have access to essential high-speed Internet and the tremendous opportunities that it provides. It is time for Congress to commit to expanding broadband Internet nationwide.
According to U.S. News & World Report, 84 percent of American homes subscribe to broadband Internet; however, only 13 percent actually have access to broadband service with speeds greater than 1 gigabit per second. Globally, the United States ranks 11th in the world for broadband speeds.
With the largest economy in the world, we should be first when it comes to keeping our citizens and businesses connected.
The picture in Arkansas is even more grim, I'm afraid. We rank 41st in the nation in terms of broadband access, with just over half of the population having terrestrial broadband coverage. Given the challenges we face, as we continue to work to strengthen our economy as well as our education system, we should be doing everything we can to expand broadband services in the Natural State.
Most recently, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, recognizing the importance of rural broadband for virtual classroom education, announced $10 million in CARES Act funding which will be directed for Wi-Fi access for students across Arkansas. This will provide 20,000 Wi-Fi devices across the state which students can use at home. Even with this tremendous effort, there will still be gaps in providing service if a student lives in an area that doesn't have access to a cellular signal.
Likewise, Governor Hutchinson's "Arkansas Rural Connect" initiative--which seeks to expand high-speed broadband Internet into our state's rural communities by 2022--is another step in the right direction, particularly as rural communities are the ones most frequently left behind on the other side of the "digital divide." As a product of rural Arkansas, I understand firsthand how important it is to invest in the digital infrastructure of our less-populated counties so that they can continue to compete in today's high-speed world.
For this to happen, it will first take a significant commitment from our elected officials. Fortunately, there does seem to be some rare bipartisan consensus in Congress around this issue. House Democrats have introduced an infrastructure package that would fund broadband expansion nationwide. Meanwhile, Republicans are also discussing a legislative effort to expand broadband access.
This is reassuring, as it will take a truly bipartisan effort to ensure all Americans have access to high-speed broadband networks.
A good starting point in Congress would be to fully fund the DATA Act as soon as possible. The DATA Act will help map the areas in our country that face the greatest need for broadband, so we can know precisely where to target deployment efforts. Congress should also look to pass new legislation aimed at strengthening and building out our entire broadband infrastructure while increasing existing aids to expand broadband access.
As Congress works to address this problem, it should do so in a way that preserves the light-touch regulatory environment under which the Internet has grown and evolved since its inception. It is that approach that has enabled our high-speed Internet networks to perform so well under the increased traffic experienced over the past several months.
Broadband Internet is vital to securing our economic recovery, strengthening our education system, improving health care, and expanding employment opportunities. The sooner Congress can commit to passing real solutions to close the digital divide and help make high-speed broadband Internet access a reality for all Arkansas families, the better off we will all be.
Rutledge Announces Virtual Elder Abuse ConferenceWed, Aug 12, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the first virtual Elder Abuse Conference on Thursday, September 3, 2020. The conference was established to address issues faced by providers and loved ones who provide assistance and services to the elderly. The broad range of topics will include caregiver fatigue, financial exploitation, agency roles in protecting elder and endangered adults and communicating with victims who have cognitive impairment. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt will offer the keynote address.
“Our conference will provide education to protect our seniors who are vulnerable to financial and physical abuse,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This virtual platform will safely ensure our law enforcement officers, caregivers, and family members can identify suspected maltreatment and how they should respond.”
“I look forward to joining Attorney General Rutledge and the other conference attendees and sharing some of the lessons we have learned in Kansas and steps we are taking to combat elder abuse in our state,” said Kansas Attorney General Schmidt. “As the population of seniors continues to grow in Kansas, Arkansas and the rest of the country, an increased focus on elder abuse is needed, and I am grateful that Attorney General Rutledge is convening this online conference to further that discussion.”
According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans 60 years and older have experienced some kind of abuse. As many as five million elderly Americans are estimated to be abused each year.
The public is invited as well as law enforcement, medical professionals and providers, attorneys and home care givers to learn to better protect older and developmentally differently-abled adults.
This event was previously scheduled to take place in April, but was rescheduled due to COVID-19.
Interested Arkansans can sign up for this free, CLE and CLEST eligible training at here or call (800) 482-8982 for more information.
Rutledge Praises Unanimous Decision Overturning Injunction Blocking Dismemberment Abortion BanFri, Aug 7, 2020
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a response following today’s U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit decision vacating the U.S. District Court’s injunction against four Arkansas abortion laws.
“Arkansas has taken a strong stance to protect the unborn from inhumane treatment,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I have always advocated for the lives of unborn children and will continue to defend our State’s legal right to protect the unborn. No defenseless baby should ever face the unimaginable and horrifying fate of death by dismemberment.”
The Arkansas General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the four challenged laws in 2017, which Governor Asa Hutchinson then signed into law. These laws—the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act; the Sex Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act; an amendment regarding the disposal of fetal remains; and an amendment addressing the maintenance of fetal remain samples—were preliminarily enjoined by federal district court Judge Kristine Baker. But on an appeal brought by Attorney General Rutledge, the Eighth Circuit unanimously overturned Judge Baker’s injunction.