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Judge orders release of Arkansas attorney general’s records

August 22, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A judge has ordered the public release of a portion of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s past personnel record ahead of the November election.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled Monday to release eight additional pages from Rutledge’s record as an attorney with the Department of Human Services, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. He said the portion of the record previously withheld by the department “sheds light on the agency’s statutory duties” while Rutledge worked in the Division of Children and Family Services between 2006 and 2007.

A Democratic Party of Arkansas staff member, Reed Brewer, sued the department this month to obtain redacted portions of Rutledge’s employee file. The Republican attorney general faces Democrat Mike Lee in the Nov. 6 election.

Rutledge called the judge’s decision “a clear misinterpretation of the Freedom of Information Act” that “puts thousands of current and former government employees in jeopardy of having their records distorted by vindictive former supervisors ... and improperly released long after they voluntarily leave a government job.”

More than 50 pages of Rutledge’s personnel file were released years ago. Department attorneys argued that no other records should be disclosed because Rutledge voluntarily quit, though allegedly altered portions of the record indicate she was terminated for gross misconduct.

The attorney general said in 2014 that her record was altered by “politically motivated” bosses. She repeated similar allegations Monday in light of the ruling.

Rutledge’s existing public record also includes emails between her former supervisors asking she be placed on a “do-not-rehire” list, without stating a reason.

A department spokesman said that it’s unclear if the agency would appeal Fox’s order to the state Supreme Court.

“We’re confident that (the agency) will do the right thing and not appeal and (will) release the records,” said Chris Burks, Brewer’s attorney.

The release of the eight additional pages will not be made public until Fox signs a written order, which could be this week.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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