Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Leslie Rutledge’s “Distrust” of DHS File (Or, Perhaps More Accurately, “If Ignorance Is Bliss, She’s Happy As A Clam”)

On more than one occasion, including during the AETN Attorney General debate, Republican candidate Leslie Rutledge has stated that the reason she has refused to release her personnel file from her time at the Department of Human Services is because she “does not trust” the contents of that file. ¬†Implied — and sometimes stated explicitly — in that explanation is that, because the “Do Not Rehire” was added ten days after her resignation, Rutledge is concerned that other things might have been added to the file at a later date as well.

On the surface,[foot]Assuming you are the type of person who considers anything that Leslie Rutledge says worth believing on its face.[/foot] this might make sense. For about 5 seconds, anyway, until you remember how the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act works. Specifically, Ark. Code Ann. 25-19-105(c)(2), which reads:

Any personnel or evaluation records exempt from disclosure under this chapter shall nonetheless be made available to the person about whom the records are maintained or to that person’s designated representative.

Under that law, Rutledge could request her own personnel records from DHS and review them without ever having to release them to anyone else. She could literally know with 100% certainty what is in the records, so that she would not have to rely on “I don’t trust the content of those records” as an excuse for not releasing them.

Has she done that? I’ll give you two guesses. (Hint: pick “no.”)

I sent a FOIA request to DHS yesterday for all FOIA requests made regarding Leslie Rutledge and all requests made by Leslie Rutledge. There were requests from three different lawyers, from the Arkansas Times, from the AP, from the Democrat-Gazette, and from a group out of Washington D.C. Not one of those requests, even from the lawyers, specified that it was made on behalf of Leslie Rutledge as her designated representative, so none of those requests could have lawfully obtained her personnel file.

Meaning, then, that either Rutledge does not understand (and has not attempted to figure out) how the AFOIA works or she would rather hide behind banal statements about “trust” instead of figuring out the real answer to her own questions, even when the ability to find those answers is 100% within her control.

If it is the former, that is a problem, because one of functions of the Office of the Attorney General is to render opinions on AFOIA questions. If it is the latter, it is a still a problem, because it is basically lying by omission to the voters who are wondering why she has not released her DHS file.

In either case, yet again, we come back to the same theme: Leslie Rutledge lacks the judgment necessary to hold a constitutional office.

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