Lawsuit Says Arkansas Lawyer Basic Rutledge Misused Taxpayer Funds for Political, Private Achieve

A.G. Rutledge allegedly used her participation in pro-Trump lawsuits to garner donations for an intended gubernatorial campaign.

A group of Arkansas residents have filed a lawsuit against the state’s attorney general, Leslie Rutledge.

The complaint accuses Rutledge of misusing taxpayer money, redirecting public funds to her re-election campaign and attempting to bolster support for outgoing United States President Donald Trump. Broadly, the lawsuit claims that Rutledge’s expenses were not in Arkansas’ best interests.

KATV reports the plaintiffs say Rutledge was investing taxpayer dollars into her own political future.

Rutledge, who was elected attorney general in 2014, has announced her candidacy for Arkansas governor in 2022. According to the lawsuit, Rutledge misused her appropriations authority to engage in “political and highly-partisan legal and judicial activities” in the name of the state.

The lawsuit—aspects of which were reprinted by The Arkansas Times—includes a list of examples, such as:

  • Rutledge added Arkansas a signatory to an amicus curiae brief, submitted alongside 10 other Republican attorneys general, requesting that the Supreme Court prevent the State of Pennsylvania from certifying mail-in ballots counted for and during the 2020 presidential election; and
  • Invoking her authority as Arkansas Attorney General to again petition the Supreme Court to block the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from certifying their ballot counts and permitting their respective electors to vote for President-elect Joe Biden in the Electoral College; and
  • Attempting to profit from her participating in the above two actions by making posts on the “Leslie Rutledge for Arkansas” Facebook page in which Rutledge urged members of the public to donate to her gubernatorial campaign based off her pro-Trump lawsuits

The Arkansas Times notes that the

Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally, flags in the background.
Donald Trump. Photo by Gage Skidmore, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

lawsuit makes other supporting claims, too. Rutledge, for instance, allegedly took time away from her duties as Arkansas attorney general to “serve as the national co-chair of Lawyers for Trump! and engaged in partisan political activities of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association she once chaired.”

The Defense Fund, adds the Arkansas Times, had encouraged Americans to attend the January 6th protests at the United States Capitol—protests which sought to prevent Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November race, which culminated in rioters vandalizing and looting sections of the national capitol.

The lawsuit estimates that Rutledge also spent nearly $2 million on televised advertisements promoting herself and her office’s services; most of these commercials aired shortly before or after she announced her bid for the 2022 governorship.

While Rutledge’s office has yet to provide extensive comment, a spokesperson told KATV that the Attorney General’s Office denies the allegations listed within the suit.

“The Attorney General has broad discretion to act in the interest of the people of Arkansas,” Rutledge’s office said in a statement. “This is a frivolous lawsuit, and we will ask that it be dismissed.”


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