Rutledge: Fifth Circuit Should Reconsider Sweeping Endangered Species Act DecisionThu, 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.
Rutledge Statement on the Passing of Sebastian County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill CooperWed, 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.”
Rutledge Holds Barclays Accountable for Anticompetitive ConductMon, 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.
Rutledge Reaches Settlement with CephalonFri, Aug 5, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a settlement, along with 47 other states, with Cephalon and affiliated companies. The settlement ends a multistate investigation into anticompetitive conduct by Cephalon to protect its monopoly on the drug market, bringing in major profits for its landmark wakefulness drug, Provigil. Due to its conduct, Cephalon delayed generic, cheaper versions of Provigil from entering the market for several years.
“Arkansans deserve the benefits of a free marketplace, but unlawful actions like those of Cephalon deceitfully keep prices high and harm consumers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This agreement holds Cephalon accountable and provides important relief to consumers who overpaid for drugs as a result of Cephalon’s corruption.”
The settlement includes $35 million for distribution to consumers who bought Provigil with $673,734.84 going to Arkansas consumers. The State’s total recovery will be $502,779.05 consisting of $235,928.25 to compensate for State proprietary claims and $266,850.78 for Arkansas’s share of disgorgement and costs.
As patent and regulatory barriers prevented generic competition to Provigil neared expiration, Cephalon intentionally defrauded the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to secure an additional patent, which a court subsequently deemed invalid and unenforceable. Before that court finding, Cephalon was able to delay generic competition for nearly six years by filing patent infringement lawsuits against all potential generic competitors. Cephalon subsequently settled those lawsuits in 2005 and early 2006 by paying the generic competitors to delay sale of their generic versions of Provigil until at least April 2012. Because of that delayed entry, consumers, states and others paid hundreds of millions more for Provigil than they would have had generic versions of the drug launched by early 2006, as expected.
This settlement was facilitated by litigation brought against Cephalon by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In May 2015, the FTC settled its suit against Cephalon for injunctive relief and $1.2 billion, which was paid into an escrow account. The FTC settlement allowed for those escrow funds to be distributed for settlement of certain related cases and government investigations, such as those of the 48 states.
The settlement is subject to court review, including providing consumers with notice and an opportunity to participate in, object to or opt out of the settlement. The states expect court review will be provided by Judge Mitchell Goldberg of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who is currently overseeing other litigation concerning Provigil against Cephalon and others.
Guest Op-Ed: Obama bullied schools into multi-sex bathroomsFri, 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.
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.
Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for AugustThu, Aug 4, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for August.
Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative in 2015 to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. Last year, office hours were held in all 75 counties, marking the first time that the Attorney General’s office has held office hours in each county across the State. Since January, 40 mobile offices have been held in an effort to help even more Arkansans.
The Attorney General Mobile Offices assist constituents with consumer related issues in filing consumer complaints against scam artists. Staff will also be available to answer questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents. Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.
Rutledge earlier this year expanded the services offered at mobile offices to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. Rutledge is partnering with local law enforcement agencies across the State who will handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Arkansans are encouraged to bring their old, unused or expired prescription medications to an upcoming mobile office.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.
The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:
Thursday, Aug. 25
10:30 a.m. – noon
Mississippi County Senior Citizens Center
1101 David Lane
Blytheville, AR 72315
Monday, Aug. 29
10:30 a.m. – noon
Central Arkansas Development Council Murfreesboro Senior Activity Center
120 E. Court St., Suite A
Murfreesboro, AR 71958
Tuesday, Aug. 30
10:30 a.m. – noon
Dardanelle City Hall
120 N. Front St.
Dardanelle, AR 72834