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2 Women Arrested by MFCU
Proposed Alteration of Regional Haze Rule

Rutledge Criticizes the EPA for Proposed Alteration of Regional Haze Rule

Thu, Aug 11, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is leading a coalition of eight attorneys general, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fully consider the effects and costs of proposed amendments to the regulations governing regional haze. The attorneys general believe that the proposed changes are inconsistent with the plain text of the Clean Air Act, would increase costs on Arkansas utilities and ultimately ratepayers and drastically reduce the role of the states in establishing their own guidelines.

In the letter, the attorneys general write, “if adopted, the proposed amendments would dramatically alter existing definitions, divest the states of their long-established role in determining what is a reasonably attributable visibility impairment source or set of sources, dramatically expand the authority of Federal Land Managers at the expense of the states, replace measurable impairment standards with amorphous and ill-defined concepts and cast aside the understood link between reasonable progress and long term goals.”

“The EPA is proposing improper changes to the rules to wrest control from states like Arkansas that approach regional haze in a balanced way,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These proposed changes are part of an attempt to force the EPA’s political agenda on many states and ignore what is in the best interest of a particular state. The EPA should fully consider the effects of these rule changes before thinking about proceeding with implementation.”

Joining Rutledge in the letter are the attorneys general of Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

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Endangered Species Act Decision

Rutledge: Fifth Circuit Should Reconsider Sweeping Endangered Species Act Decision

Thu, Aug 11, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in an amicus brief, asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to grant en banc review of the case, Wyerhaeuser Company v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A three-judge panel of the Court decided the case in favor of the Fish and Wildlife Service and did so in a way that risks giving the federal agency the unilateral and unchecked ability to assert control over large swaths of private and state property across the nation.

The panel’s decision ignored the plain language of the Endangered Species Act as well as relevant U.S. Supreme Court precedent. The attorneys general are asking for the case to be heard by the full Court.

“A decision of this sweeping magnitude that threatens the private property rights of citizens and the interests of the states should be heard by the full circuit court,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If the previous decision is allowed to stand, it risks giving federal bureaucrats in one agency an almost unconfinable power to decide on their own what and how much private and state land to assert control over for the alleged purpose of conserving endangered species. This would even include land that the species have never once lived on or used.”

The attorneys general argue that the Court should grant review for two reasons. First, the panel’s decision “would allow the government to declare land ‘essential’ to the conservation of a species even if that land is not and may never be habitable by the species.” Second, the panel “declared certain critical habitat findings immune from judicial review, threatening to undermine the important cost-benefit analysis Congress built into the Endangered Species Act. If allowed to stand, the panel’s decision would strip the states and other interested parties of their right to challenge irrational or arbitrary habitat decisions.”

Led by the Alabama Attorney General, Rutledge is joined on the brief by attorneys general from Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming.

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Sebastian County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Cooper Passing

Rutledge Statement on the Passing of Sebastian County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Cooper

Wed, Aug 10, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today issued a statement in response to the shooting death of Sebastian County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Cooper.

“Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Cooper gave his life protecting the citizens of Sebastian County and for that we are forever grateful,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Deputy Cooper showed enormous courage in the line of duty and in the face of incredible danger. This terrible incident is a reminder to all Arkansans of the threatening situations members of law enforcement put themselves in each and every day in order to shield their neighbors from harm. They deserve our support and appreciation for all they do. As Arkansas’s chief law enforcement officer, I extend my thoughts and prayers to Deputy Cooper’s family, friends and brothers and sisters in law enforcement across our State, as well as Hackett Chief of Police Darrell Spells, who was also injured in today’s tragic incident.”

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Barclays Accountable for Anticompetitive Conduct

Rutledge Holds Barclays Accountable for Anticompetitive Conduct

Mon, Aug 8, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a $100 million settlement with Barclays Bank PLC and Barclays Capital Inc. for fraudulent and anticompetitive conduct involving manipulation of LIBOR. LIBOR is a benchmark interest rate that affects financial instruments worth trillions of dollars and has a widespread impact on the global marketplace and consumers.

“Various entities, including government and nonprofit organizations, in Arkansas and across the country were defrauded millions because of Barclays’ manipulation and its efforts to protect its own profits,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Barclays is being held accountable for these actions because of the diligent work of Attorneys General across the country to protect consumers. I hope that this case will deter future attempts by organizations seeking to harm competition for their own benefit.”

The investigation, conducted by a multistate working group of 44 State Attorneys General, including Arkansas, and led by the Attorneys General of New York and Connecticut, revealed that Barclays manipulated LIBOR through two different kinds of deceitful conduct. First, during the financial crisis, Barclays' managers frequently told LIBOR submitters to lower their LIBOR settings in order to avoid the appearance that Barclays was in financial difficulty and needed to pay a higher rate than some of its peers to borrow money. The LIBOR submitters complied with the instructions and suppressed their submissions. Second, at various times from 2005 to 2007 and continuing at least into 2009, Barclays’ traders asked submitters to change their LIBOR settings in order to benefit their trading positions, and the submitters often agreed to the requests. At times, those requests came from traders outside the bank, and Barclays traders agreed to pass them along to Barclays’ submitters, thus colluding with other banks. Barclays also believed that other banks’ LIBOR submissions did not reflect their true borrowing rates, and the published LIBOR did not reflect the cost of borrowing funds in the market, as it was supposed to do.

Governmental and nonprofit entities with LIBOR-linked swaps and other investment contracts with Barclays will be notified if they are eligible to receive restitution from a settlement fund of $93.35 million. The balance of the settlement fund will be used to pay costs and expenses of the investigation and for other uses consistent with state law.

Barclays is the first of several U.S. Dollar-LIBOR-setting panel banks under investigation by the State Attorneys General to resolve the claims against it, and Barclays has cooperated fully from the outset.

The states joining the Barclays settlement include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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Obama bullied schools into multi-sex bathrooms

Guest Op-Ed: Obama bullied schools into multi-sex bathrooms

Fri, Aug 5, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – An op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in The Hill newspaper which explains why Arkansas and nine other states recently filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s directive forcing public schools to open single-sex bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities to members of the opposite sex.

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Arkansas and nine other states recently filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s directive forcing public schools to open single-sex bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities to members of the opposite sex. To date, fully half of the states in this nation are standing up to oppose this directive. Why?

The answer is simple. This directive is the paradigmatic example of unlawful executive action and inappropriate federal overreach into local and state issues. If the President can get away with what he has done, then separation of powers, checks and balances and the rule of law are truly nothing more than empty phrases.

Title IX, originally passed by Congress in 1972, says no person “shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, of be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Because nearly all local public schools across the country receive federal funds, Title IX basically applies to every public school. In recent years, President Obama and others have wanted to add “gender identity” as a prohibited category of discrimination alongside sex in Title IX. Since 2007, numerous bills have been introduced into and debated by Congress to amend Title IX to add “gender identity” to the statute. Those bills have all failed, meaning they did not have the necessary support from the people’s elected representatives.

Frustrated by the people’s will and checks and balances, President Obama decided he would simply change the law himself as he has done many times before. He directed his agencies to begin “interpreting” the word “sex” in Title XI as including the term “gender identity” — even though everyone knows that “sex” and “gender identity” are two different concepts. As part of this scheme, the Department of Education sent letters to every local school district nationwide warning that schools will be in violation of Title IX if they don’t let children use the bathroom of their professed gender identity regardless of their biological sex. This is despite Congress specifically stating that nothing in Title IX should “be construed to prohibit” schools “from maintaining separate living facilities for the different sexes.” Moreover it is despite a decades-long acknowledgment by the Department of Education that Title IX allows schools to “separate toilets, and shower facilities on the basis of sex.”

The bullying and threatening letters also suggest schools would violate Title IX if they require proof of gender identity — for example, parental involvement or a statement from a doctor — from a student. If taken seriously, as the letters must be because of the threat of loss of federal funding, this means a high school or middle school could not prevent a group of boys from using the same locker room as the girls in their gym class if the boys suddenly decided one day to profess a female gender identity. Whatever the suggested upside of such a policy for transgendered students, it is a recipe for invasions of privacy, bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault. And if the same theory is to be applied to statutes governing public restrooms — locations we know are frequented by pedophiles — the consequences might even be worse. As the chief law enforcement officer of my State, I vehemently oppose the creation of circumstances that invite such dangers.

The heartbreaking thing is that it seems as if transgendered students are being used as pawns by this administration to further a broader political and legal agenda. In Arkansas, local school districts have worked to provide reasonable, dignified, respectful solutions for students who are transgendered. There was no problem, until the President manufactured one.

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