Arkansas and Texas Lead Coalition Against Delaware to Reclaim MoneyThu, Jun 9, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today are co-leading a group of 21 states in an original action filing in the U.S. Supreme Court against the State of Delaware. At a minimum, Delaware has approximately $200 million that rightfully belongs to its sister states under the federal Disposition of Abandoned Money Orders and Traveler’s Checks Act. The ultimate dollar figure that Delaware owes other states may be much higher.
The dispute between the 21 plaintiff states and Delaware is about which state is entitled to abandoned and unclaimed “official checks” sold by MoneyGram, a money transfer services company that operates in all 50 states and internationally. With Delaware’s acquiescence, guidance and direction, millions of dollars in unclaimed “official checks” have been wrongfully escheated, or turned over, to the State of Delaware. This error was based on the mistaken belief that such abandoned and unclaimed property is supposed to be turned over to the issuing company’s state of incorporation, in this case Delaware. Federal law and the law in each of the plaintiff states is clear that such abandoned and unclaimed property should be turned over to the state where the property was purchased.
The coalition is asking the Supreme Court to declare that the plaintiff states, and not Delaware, are entitled to the hundreds of millions of dollars improperly turned over to Delaware and to all future similar abandoned and unclaimed property. The coalition is also asking the Court to order the appropriate repayment to plaintiff states by Delaware.
“Arkansas taxpayers have been robbed,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Delaware is simply not entitled to unclaimed monies that lawfully belong to 49 other states. I am committed to working with my colleagues to guarantee that this money is properly returned to the taxpayers. I am also very appreciative of the hard work of Auditor Andrea Lea’s office for originally identifying this issue and diligently working with us to try to recover the sums owed to the State.”
On Feb. 10, 2015, an independent auditor completed an examination of abandoned “official checks” from MoneyGram in a select group of states and concluded that nearly $200 million was owed to those states. The State of Arkansas is owed over $850,000 in unclaimed “official checks.”
Arkansas and Texas are joined in today’s filing by Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.
Rutledge Releases Statement After Meeting with CFPB DirectorWed, Jun 8, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today after meeting with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray in Little Rock.
“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Director Cordray and discuss a number of important topics of concern to Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I reiterated my request that Director Cordray hold a conference of states to discuss the proposed federal standards for credit lines, installment loans, deposit advances, automobile-title secured loans and payday loans. I made clear that holding such a conference is the right thing to do anytime a federal rule is going to supplant the reasonable policy choices of either Arkansas or other states. Based on the meeting, I am optimistic that Director Cordray will meet with a group of Attorneys General soon to discuss the proposed federal standards.”
Rutledge requested last month that the CFPB convene a conference of the states to discuss the potential impact and need for new federal regulations. Rutledge noted in her letter that the potential rule would conflict with, constrict and otherwise unnecessarily interfere with existing state consumer protection laws, lending standards, licensing systems and regulatory enforcement mechanisms.
ICYMI: New and Dangerous Labor Rule Hurts Small BusinessesWed, Jun 8, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Today, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in the Washington Examiner, which explains why she has taken a leading role in fighting the Labor Department’s Persuader Advice Exemption Rule.
Claiming that it will be equitable for all parties even though it only applies to employer-side labor lawyers, and not union-side lawyers, the Labor Department released its Persuader Advice Exemption Rule. By ignoring more than 50 years of legal precedent, the Labor Department is thrusting a rule on businesses that is unlawful under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which has long preserved the confidentiality of attorney-client communications by exempting advice relating to labor relations issues from disclosure.
Small businesses, the job creators of our country, will be forced to disclose a great deal of sensitive information that is currently protected by the attorney-client relationship. The sanctity of an employer’s relationship with its legal counsel has, until now, been protected from disclosure regardless of which political party was in power. Preserving the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship benefits everyone – labor and management alike – and should not be a partisan issue. The Labor Department is quite simply putting the interests of labor unions before the common good and the need to grow jobs.
Under current law, an employer of any size must report when attorneys communicate directly with its employees. However, under this sweeping new rule, a business will have to file reports on any advice it receives from an attorney concerning efforts to influence its employees’ unionizing activities – triggering the disclosure requirement even if the attorney makes no contact with the employees.
In a February letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, I raised this particular concern of small businesses because of the additional reporting requirement that applies specifically to outside counsel. Many large corporations employ in-house counsel and will be exempt from the new disclosure requirement. However, small businesses are less likely to employ in-house counsel; therefore, they would be required to report on confidential aspects of their relationship with outside attorneys, and failure to do so would result in serious penalties under the new rule.
While the Labor Department claims this rule will even the playing field and create more transparency, it actually jeopardizes the ability of employers to get the confidential legal advice needed to lawfully respond to such things as union bargaining, union elections and organizing campaigns. Job growth and economic development will be hindered at a time when we already have the lowest labor force participation rate in more than a generation.
What are job creators saying about this new rule? The National Retail Federation has called it “chilling.” The Associated Builders and Contractors fear it would discourage openness. And a senior counsel with the National Federation of Independent Business Legal Center concluded it would be next to impossible for lawyers to offer advice to business owners under the new rule.
Last month, I led a group of state attorneys general from across the country in filing a friend of the court brief in two federal cases, urging the courts to grant the plaintiffs’ motions for a preliminary injunction to stop the Labor Department’s new rule. And this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and I led a group of our colleagues in filing a motion to intervene in a Texas federal case challenging the rule. The American people would best be served by tabling this rule’s implementation until its full legality can be determined by a court of law.
As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I will continue to work to protect Arkansans and all Americans from this harmful and unlawful rule. It’s time to put jobs, economic growth and small businesses’ ability to obtain attorney advice ahead of political posturing.
Rutledge Disappointed in CFPB for Disregarding Her Request and Moving Forward with Controversial RuleThu, Jun 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge expressed disappointment with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for moving forward and proposing new federal standards for – and limitations on – credit lines, installment loans, deposit advances, automobile-title secured loans and payday loans. The CFPB disregarded Rutledge’s request to convene a conference of the states to discuss the potential impact and need for new federal regulations.
“By disregarding my request and the concerns raised by many others at the state and federal levels about sweeping federal standards that would govern small dollar lending, Director Richard Cordray has made it clear that he is not interested in cooperative federalism,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This one-size-fits-all federal approach from an unaccountable bureaucrat and agency ignores the interests of the states and will negate reasonable policies that already exist to protect consumers while at the same time allowing the free market to function properly. My office will review this proposed rule from the CFPB and evaluate the best course of action.”
Rutledge noted in her letter last month that the potential rule would conflict with, constrict and otherwise unnecessarily interfere with existing state consumer protection laws, lending standards, licensing systems and regulatory enforcement mechanisms.
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said in a statement today, “When I asked Director Cordray to identify states he believes do not adequately protect consumers of small dollar lending, he declined to do so. He also ignored concerns raised by state leaders like Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.”
Rutledge Announces Malvern Man Sentenced for Medicaid FraudThu, Jun 2, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the conviction of a Hot Spring County man for Medicaid fraud. Dantelle Knight pleaded guilty in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Knight will serve five years probation and pay a fine of $14,230.08. He was also ordered to pay $4,743.36 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. “Medicaid is a critical safety net for some of the most vulnerable Arkansans, and I will ensure that those people attempting to defraud Arkansans are held accountable.”
Knight, 24, of Malvern was arrested by agents of the Attorney General’s office in February. He pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony. Knight 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: U.S. Supreme Court Protects Private Property RightsTue, May 31, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today praised the U.S. Supreme Court for unanimously protecting private property owners, a position Rutledge had urged in a friend of the court brief.
The federal government argued that landowners could not challenge a government decision that their private property contained “waters of the United States” and therefore required permits for certain activities. But the Court held that the government’s decision represents “final agency action” and can be challenged in court.
“The federal permitting process is hamstringing landowners across Arkansas and the country with enormous costs and redundant paperwork,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today’s decision from the Supreme Court allows private property owners, who are being forced or intimidated into unnecessary compliance, to quickly challenge the federal government on these decisions.”
The case, Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Inc., centers on a North Dakota peat mining company that sought to challenge a government determination that its mining plans would require costly Clean Water Act permits. Rutledge was part of a coalition of 23 states that filed an amicus brief with the Court, supporting the North Dakota company.
In a separate case, Rutledge and 12 other states are challenging the government’s definition of “waters of the United States” as vague and radically overbroad.