UPDATE: Rutledge email causes a stir, but she tells AP words were not hers and former co-worker confirms

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The Department of Human Services today released 1,300 e-mails to and from Republican attorney general nominee Leslie Rutledge when she worked in the legal counsel's office. A beginning of our review shows mundane stuff — schedules, office meetings, banter with co-workers.

But one e-mail drew immediate attention from press. We posted it here as well. But her campaign has since told the Associated Press, which first ran the story, (the campaign has not yet responded to our inquiry) that the e-mail was simply a copy of a comment posted on the Arkansas Blog by someone writing under the name Hog Lawyer. She sent it to legal office co-worker Gray Turner, with the subject line "Shame on You." He's since confirmed he was the author of the words that she copied on her e-mail and sent to him.

An e-mail on Rutledge's account carried this message in its entirety:

Why are the Young Republicans picking on Hillary's pro-choice voting record?

The Republican's current front runner Giuliani is pro-choice right?

Mitt Romney was pro-choice until just a vew years ago. Of course, they won't want to use the word flip-flopper on him will they ? "Kerry, I mean Romney, was for it, now he's against it" Flip flopping only applies to Democrats apparently.

Fred Thompson, was a paid lobbyist for a pro-choice group in 1991. Of course now he claims he is anti-choice.

They will find some lame reason he isn't a flip-flopper too I'm sure .

I guess these Young Republicans must be supporting John McCain or Ron Paul or some other consistent anti-abortion candidate like that ——- surely they wouldn't support a pro-choice candidate or flip-floppers right?

A pregnant woman, no matter what age, should have the right to an abortion without parental notification anyway — we shouldn't allow wacko religious parents to force a young woman to carry to term a unwanted pregnancy — but apparently that is exactly what the Young Republicans favor. Its even better if they are barefoot the whole time I bet.

Then to say a Beebe can't claim to be conservative while endorsing Hillary ? Do I have to agree with 100% of someone's positions to endorse them? The Republicans are going to have it hard in the 2008 elections if this is the best they can come up with.

Then their other lame attacks on Clinton are equally misguided. They try to say Hillary favors violent criminal illegal immigrants? Last I checked, we didn't need a new law to deport illegal immigrants. We don't need a new law to deny citizenship to dangerous felons do we? Of course not. You don't have to vote in favor of a meaningless "tough on crime" law to be tough on crime.

Thanks

Leslie C. Rutledge
Attorney, Office of Chief Counsel
Department of Health and Human Services

Here's a view of the whole email.

I sought comments from Rutledge, who describes herself (see ad) as a "Christian, pro-life, gun-carrying conservative."

She and her spokesman did not respond to my question. But the AP, which posted the item first, said it withdrew the story from publication after hearing from her campaign that "she was forwarding a comment from a blog." That same comment does appear on the Arkansas Blog in the comments section, written by "hoglawyer." Not Rutledge, the campaign said.

UPDATE: Gray Turner, a former co-worker with Rutledge, has now written me to say that he was the "hoglawyer" who wrote the item reprinted in Rutledge's mail and that all comments under the "hoglawyer" on the blog were his and no one else's. That would make sense of a remonstrating "shame on you" by Rutledge on the comment in disagreement with the sentiment. I talked with Turner about it and he said he's sure he wrote the item. He added, "Leslie has always been clearly pro-life as long as I've known her."

DHS said it began archiving e-mails in 2007, the year Rutledge worked there, but the system didn't work fully until the second half of the year. The search for Rutledge e-mails included some withheld for client protection and some were redacted for that reason. Seventy were sent to the attorney general for review. DHS spokeswoman Amy Webb said DHS believed those, too, should be released, but wanted a second opinion.

Webb said none of these emails had ever been reviewed until FOI requests were made in the last week. That is, they wouldn't have played a role in the decision by superiors to place a "do not rehire" note in her personnel file. The reasons for that remain a mystery and DHS continues to say it won't discuss the matter beyond releasing what's been released.

Having been through hundreds so far, nothing striking has appeared beyond the abortion note. The emails end roughly two weeks before Rutledge's resignation.

The emails wouldn't include any notes from supervisors that amounted to a record of her job performance, however. Those are protected from release under FOI except in cae of suspension or firing. One note from a supervisor, for example, asks Rutledge for a meeting and says it concerns a pending case. But there is no other account in the record pertaining to that note.

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