Rutledge Joins with 14 Other States Asking Court to Stay the EPA’s Clean Power PlanFri, Aug 14, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced she has joined a coalition of 15 State Attorneys General in asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to issue an emergency stay that would postpone deadlines imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan while the plan’s legality is determined by the courts.
“Because of the deadlines and obligations included in the Clean Power Plan, Arkansas must begin to use money and resources to attempt to become compliant despite the rule having not been published in the Federal Register,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas should not have to move forward with the burdensome and costly regulations of the Clean Power Plan until the legality of the rule is determined. Unfortunately, the EPA has not published the rule yet preventing Arkansas and other States from challenging the rule on the merits. I’m confident the legal challenge will show the EPA has gone far beyond the scope intended by the Clean Air Act.”
Typically, a stay of a federal rule would not be sought until the lawsuit challenging it is filed, which would usually occur once the rule is published in the Federal Register. In most cases, the obligations imposed by a new rule are tied to the date of publication.
However, in this case, the Attorneys General argue, the EPA has made the unusual choice to make the States’ obligations effective immediately. Regardless of the date of formal publication, the States already have firm deadlines to submit initial and final compliance plans under the rule. Because it could be months before the 1,560-page rule is published, the Attorneys General believe court precedent makes clear that a request for a stay at this time is appropriate in order to prevent States from having to expend significant taxpayer resources to begin complying with the rule.
Earlier this month, Rutledge asked the EPA for an administrative stay of the Clean Power Plan while its legality was reviewed by the courts. The EPA responded saying it would take the request “under consideration,” but the agency has yet to act on that request.
Rutledge was joined in petition by the States of Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
A copy of the petition is available here.
Rutledge Statement on the Resignation of Arkansas Chief Justice Jim HannahThu, Aug 13, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today in response to Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah’s announcement that he will step down from the Court at the end of August due to health problems.
“Chief Justice Jim Hannah is a highly respected attorney and judge,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Through his service as a prosecuting attorney, city attorney, juvenile judge, chancery and probate judge, justice and now chief justice, Jim Hannah has served the people of Arkansas with humility and wisdom. Chief Justice Hannah consistently provided a fair and impartial approach to any question or case brought before him, and his leadership of the Court will be greatly missed. 1 Peter 5:7 says, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ I pray that the Lord will bring strength and courage to Chief Justice Hannah and his wife, Pat, during this time, and I wish him a full and speedy recovery.”
Rutledge Announces Settlement with Accredo PharmacyThu, Aug 13, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that a settlement has been reached to resolve kickback allegations against Accredo Health Group Inc. The agreement resolves claims that Accredo recommended the drug Exjade to Medicaid patients in exchange for kickbacks from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., which markets the drug.
Under the terms of the settlement, Accredo has agreed to pay $60 million to the federal government and over $40 million to States. Arkansas has received $141,202.35 under the settlement deposited into the Medicaid Program Trust Fund.
“Accredo used so-called health care professionals to encourage patients to continue taking a drug with severe side effects so that it could continue receiving high-dollar fees and rebates,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Accredo simply ignored the health and well-being of its patients.”
When Novartis launched Exjade, it created a closed distribution network, consisting of three pharmacies, through which most Exjade prescriptions in the United States were filled. As a result, Novartis controlled which pharmacy filled many of the prescriptions for Exjade. The settlement resolves allegations that Accredo participated in a scheme in which Novartis paid kickbacks to pharmacies by giving more prescription referrals to the pharmacy that kept patients on Exjade the longest.
Accredo, a specialty pharmacy headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Medco Health Solutions Inc. ships prescription drugs to Medicaid patients around the country. Exjade was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005 for the treatment of chronic iron overload due to blood transfusions. In complaints filed in the case, several States and the federal government have alleged that Novartis developed the scheme because Exjade patients often stopped taking the drug because of side effects.
The settlement stems from a whistleblower lawsuit, U.S. ex rel. Kester, et al. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, et al., which is pending in federal court in New York. The case was filed under the federal False Claims Act and similar State false claims acts.
The state settlements were negotiated by a team of States led by representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for California and New York.
Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for Remainder of AugustWed, Aug 12, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for the remainder of August.
Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city.
The mobile offices assist constituents with consumer-related issues in filing consumer complaints against scam artists. Attorney General Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call 501-682-2007 or 800-482-8982. 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:
Tuesday, Aug. 18
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Howard County Senior Citizens Center
206 E. Howard St.
Nashville, AR 71852
Tuesday, Aug. 18
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Murfreesboro City Hall
204 E. Main St.
Murfreesboro, AR 71958
Thursday, Aug. 20
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Carroll County Senior Activity and Wellness Center
202 W. Madison Ave.
Berryville, AR 72616
Thursday, Aug. 20
2 – 4 p.m.
Madison County Senior Activity and Wellness Center
903 N. College St.
Huntsville, AR 72740
Wednesday, Aug. 26
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Paragould Community Center
3404 Linwood Drive
Paragould, AR 72450
Wednesday, Aug. 26
2 – 4 p.m.
Earl Bell Community Center
1212 S. Church St.
Jonesboro, AR 72401
Rutledge Joins 16 States in Challenging the EPA’s Rejection of Plans Regarding Startup, Shutdown or Malfunction of Power PlantsTue, Aug 11, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has joined Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in a 17-State coalition to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for illegally invalidating the individual air quality protection plans in those States. In June, the EPA issued a final rule requiring 35 States, including Arkansas, to revise their individual State Implementation Plans (SIP) governing excess emissions during startup, shutdown or malfunction.
The States, led by Florida, have filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking the Court to review the EPA’s final rule. Besides the clear violation of State’s rights enumerated in the Clean Air Act, the final rule also stands to stall or reverse progress already achieved in improving air quality in each State.
“Once again, the EPA is choosing to put the political interests of the Sierra Club ahead of Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In yet another ‘sue and settle’ case, the EPA is rushing to appease the interests of the Sierra Club and force 35 States to alter their SIPs even though the plans are already succeeding. The EPA is completely ignoring the scope of its authority under the Clean Air Act in order to force another overreaching rule on Arkansans.”
For decades, States have ensured compliance with the standards set for startup, shutdown or malfunction through their individual SIPs.
The EPA’s final rule illegally requiring the states to change their previously approved SIPs came after the Agency agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club. The EPA’s rush to settle the matter has led the agency to adopt an illegal final rule that is in conflict with the Clean Air Act and infringes on Arkansas’s right to determine the most effective strategy for achieving air quality standards.
The Clean Air Act establishes a cooperative-federalism approach to regulating the nation’s air quality and dictates that the EPA has the primary responsibility to identify air pollutants that pose a threat to public health. Through the Act, the EPA is charged to set national air quality standards, but the Act gives States the primary responsibility to determine how to achieve those standards.
In addition to Arkansas and Florida, Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia have also joined this challenge.
Rutledge Announces Arrest of Lonoke County Man for Crimes Involving ChildrenFri, Aug 7, 2015
LONOKE – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of John Elwain Herndon of Austin on 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class B felony.
Herndon, 63, was arrested by the Attorney General’s Special Investigations Division at his home on Thursday, August 6. He is a registered sex offender and is accused of downloading and offering to distribute sexually explicit images of children. Herndon was also arrested for parole violations at the same time.
Herndon is being held in the Lonoke County Jail on $250,000 bond awaiting arraignment this fall. The Attorney General’s Office will turn over its completed investigative file to Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham. The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the arrest.