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
Rutledge Announces Clarksville Woman Sentenced for Medicaid FraudTue, Aug 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Johnson County woman for Medicaid fraud. Sherry Wommack pleaded guilty in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Wommack was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to pay a fine of $600. As part of the sentencing agreement, she paid $5,606.75 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund.
“Investigators and attorneys from the Attorney General’s office are working tirelessly to investigate and prosecute those who commit Medicaid fraud,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will ensure that those people attempting to defraud Arkansans are held accountable because Medicaid is a critical safety net for some of the most vulnerable in our State.”
Wommack, 46, of Clarksville pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, a Class C felony. Wommack billed the Arkansas Medicaid Program for services that were not rendered.
The case was initiated by a referral from the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and was prosecuted in coordination with the 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutledge to Recognize a Law Enforcement Officer from Each County with AwardFri, Jul 29, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that the 14th annual Arkansas Law Enforcement Summit will be Oct. 4 and 5. The event, which will be held at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, was established to offer free training and educational opportunities for Arkansas’s law enforcement community, including police, prosecutors and criminal justice personnel. Rutledge expanded the event to a two-day summit last year.
A full schedule and list of speakers for the two-day event will be announced at a later date.
Awards will be given to law enforcement from around the State, and this year Rutledge is expanding the awards. In addition to the statewide and regional Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year awards, Rutledge will recognize one law enforcement officer from each county as an Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer. These awards recognize college or university, municipal, county or State law enforcement officers who go the extra mile. Nominations will be accepted from police chiefs, county sheriffs, county judges, mayors, prosecutors and other State law enforcement leaders from across Arkansas.
“It is my honor, as the chief law enforcement officer of the State, to recognize the brave men and women who put their lives on the line each day to protect our communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And these awards recognize individuals from around the State who go above and beyond in the line of duty.”
Nomination forms are available on ArkansasAG.gov.
The award winners will be announced at a luncheon on Oct. 5.
Rutledge: Laura’s Cards are Now Available in SpanishThu, Jul 28, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the Spanish version of Laura’s Card will be provided across the State in an effort to assist and empower even more victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The card can also be downloaded at LaurasCard.ar.gov.
“As a former Lonoke County prosecutor, I saw firsthand the heartbreak that domestic violence can bring to families,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These crimes have no age, race, economic or geographic boundaries, and it is important that all Arkansans have the resources they need, including those in the Spanish speaking community. The Spanish version of Laura’s Card will be made available to sheriffs’ offices, police departments, advocacy groups, service providers and shelters across the State.”
Rutledge unveiled Laura’s Card in February, and 37,000 have been distributed across the State so far.
Laura’s Card was created through legislation sponsored by Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R-Alma) in the 2015 legislative session after many conversations with Laura Webb of Cabot. Webb is a survivor of domestic violence, but when she was victimized she did not know where to turn and voiced her concerns to Rep. Douglas about the need to provide resources to those in abusive situations. Now under Act 873, law enforcement officers must provide a resource information card to assist victims of crime and their families.
Laura’s Card includes 24-hour crisis lines, a place for law enforcement and local shelter or service provider to include contact information, a list of victim’s rights, information about the Crime Victims Reparations Board and a website that has been created with links to numerous resources available across the State. The website, LaurasCard.ar.gov, is a clearinghouse of resources for law enforcement, service providers and victims.
In addition to working with Rep. Douglas, Webb and the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Rutledge also received input to help craft Laura’s Card from the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police; Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence; Arkansas Crime Information Center; Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Board; Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association; Arkansas State Police; Criminal Justice Institute and the Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator.
Rutledge Welcomes Summer Law ClerksThu, Jul 21, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge welcomed a new class of law clerks for Summer Session II to the Attorney General’s office. These law students work in various departments assisting with legal research, drafting memos and legal documents and accompanying lawyers at trial, client meetings and hearings.
“The law clerk program is a great service-learning opportunity for these law students,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “They are gaining valuable experience from some of the State’s top attorneys this summer, while being exposed to the public service sector. Law clerks are a valuable asset to services provided at the Attorney General’s office.”
Steven Beheshti, a second year student at the University of Arkansas School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 2013, with a major in history. Beheshti is from Little Rock and graduated from Central Arkansas Christian Schools in 2006.
Luke Brasuell, a second year student at the University of Arkansas School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He graduated from the University of Arkansas with degrees in international relations and economics in 2014. Brasuell is from Benton and graduated from Benton High School in 2010.
Beth Carson, a third year student at the University of Arkansas School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2011, with a degree in criminal justice. Carson is from Hensley and graduated from Mount St. Mary Academy in 2007. Carson also served in the Army National Guard from 2006 to 2014.
Jared Perry, a second year student at the University of Arkansas School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. He graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in English in 2015. Perry is from Batesville and graduated from Midland High School in 2010.
Forrest Stobaugh, a second year student at the University of Arkansas School of Law, is clerking in the State Agencies Department. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2014, with a degree in political science. Stobaugh is from Morrilton and graduated from Morrilton High School in 2010.