Attorney general candidates debate on Capitol View | Arkansas Blog

Attorney general candidates debate on Capitol View

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DEBATING: See Steel, Goins and Rutledge Sunday morning.
  • DEBATING: See Steel, Goins and Rutledge Sunday morning.

I did a stint with KARK's David Goins at a taping of Capitol View for broadcast at 8:30 a.m. Sunday and was treated — if that's the word — to a spirited short-form debate between attorney general candidates Nate Steel and Leslie Rutledge.

Steel tried to take the high road. But Rutledge went on the attack from the outset, using the issue developed by the Republican Party. The GOP has attacked Steel for his contract work as a lawyer for the city of Nashville. It's a three-year-old arrangement. Steel operates under a Municipal League attorney's opinion that it's legal. He says he doesn't hold the office of city attorney and thus isn't dual office holding, which is prohibited by the Constitution. There's a specific statute that allows small cities like Nashville to have such contracts. Steel and his father are the only lawyers in town.

Nonetheless, Rutledge drove home her "double-dipping" charge and said flatly that what he's doing is unconstitutional.

But here was the rub I liked. Rutledge said a case in the Supreme Court this very week showed that you can't cite a statute or use it to override the clear language of the Constitution.

Uh-oh. Did Leslie Rutledge really just say that she AGREED with the Arkansas Supreme Court that the legislature's voter ID law was unconstitutional because it violated the clear dictates of the Constitution? She certainly used that case to justify her attack on Steel. Kind of ironic, at least. Or nonsensical. Because see Republicans think the voter ID law is holy writ, unanimous Supreme Court notwithstanding.

I'm sorry Steel didn't get around to working in the fact that Rutledge deplored in her primary race a huge outside expenditure in behalf of her opponent David Sterling by a dark money group. I deplored, too, the anonymous dirty money in her behalf. She called it disgusting, I recall

I wonder what she thinks now about the $1.8 million an anonymous group has spent on TV ads in the final days of this race in HER support. Who are they? Southern Strategy speculates it's tobacco money. But nobody knows. And nobody may ever know.

Steel did bring up Rutledge's poor work record at Human Services (she can't be rehired on account of "gross misconduct," one document says) and her refusal to release personnel records — or even to look privately at them herself to see if they are indeed untrustworthy, as she wants people to believe.

He did mention her forwarding of a racist e-mail by a friend while at DHS and said she bore responsibility. He did not mention the other string of raunchy stuff Rutledge sent around to co-workers at DHS on the state account, from beefcake photos to a saucy remark about a teenager. Some female friends of mine have been outraged by the tone and comments.

Blue Hog put them all together here. You decide.

There's more in the Capitol View debate, a lively session. Check it out Sunday morning.



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