LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — A group of eight Arkansas residents is suing Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on accusations that she misused taxpayer money on self-promotion and activities that were not in the state's interest, including efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The lawsuit alleges that Rutledge, who was elected attorney general in 2014 and has announced her candidacy for governor in 2022, exceeded her authority by engaging in "political and highly-partisan legal and judicial activities" in the name of the state.
Rutledge's office on Friday denied the allegations and in a written statement called the lawsuit "politically-motivated."
"The Attorney General has broad discretion to act in the interest of the people of Arkansas," the statement says. "This is a frivolous lawsuit, and we will ask that it be dismissed.”
According to the lawsuit, Rutledge spent $1.7 million in state funds last year on commercials that featured her and promoted the services of the attorney general's office. The commercials aired before and after she declared her candidacy for governor. Channel 7 is among the TV stations that aired the paid advertisements, which were known as "The Rutledge Report."
The suit alleges that Rutledge tried to profit off Republicans' longshot legal challenges to presidential election results in battleground states. It points to a Facebook post soliciting donations for her gubernatorial campaign. The post, which linked to a fundraising website, said: “Arkansas is in the fight! Now, will you help me win?"
Little Rock attorney Richard Mays filed the suit.
The plaintiffs are listed as Pratt Cates Remmel Jr.; Gale Stewart; Glen Hooks; Robert Leflar; Elaine Dumas; Michael Dougan; Harvey Joe Sanner and Jackie Simpson.
Rutledge serves as the national co-chair of Lawyers for Trump, an organization that aimed to "mobilize support for President Trump" to help him secure a second term in office, according to its website. The lawsuit alleges that Rutledge "spent many hours away from her office and duties as attorney general" to support the group. Rutledge did that, the suit alleges, "to further her political standing and to promote her own personal political ambitions at the expense of the taxpayers of Arkansas."
The suit seeks an injunction prohibiting Rutledge from acting in ways that exceed her authority. It also seeks for the state treasury to be repaid any illegal expenditures.