LESLIE RUTLEDGE: 2015 is going to be a much better year for the attorney general financially.
New Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
, whose state pay went from about $73,000 to $130,000 thanks to the work of the new independent citizens commission, might have done better than just about anybody else in public life through the recent pay raises.
In her annual statement of financial interest, filed Feb. 15, but which just popped up on line, Rutledge made the required reporting of income and holdings. She had little to show in the way of earned income for 2014, not even a tenth of what she'll earn as attorney general in 2015.
It showed she made more than $1,000 but less than $12,000 from her Rutledge Law Firm in 2014. She also reported withdrawing more than $12,000 from a retirement account as her only other source of income. She reported no business or holdings except more than $1,000 in an account at Simmons First National Bank.
Rutledge's legal experience was an issue in her successful campaign against Democrat Nate Steel.
She's held at least 10 jobs, counting attorney general, since law school graduation in 2001. They included work as a law clerk for a family friend, stints in Gov. Mike Huckabee's office and Republican Party offices and a controversial time at the Department of Human Services
, where superiors issued a "do not rehire" order after her departure there. Voters were happy to hire her, however.
The financial statement also shows that Rutledge, not then an office holder, reported gifts of $200 and $500 worth of apparel from Boyce Johnson in June 2014 and $700 worth of jewelry in December (after the election) from Alice House. Gifts, defined as something worth more than $100, are prohibited to public officials, but Rutledge was not then a public official.
Rutledge also reported getting more than $3,000 in June and more than $3,700 in November to cover travel to the Republican Attorneys General Association meetings, as well as more than $1,900 to attend a National Attorneys General Association conference. RAGA spent $300,000 or more on TV ads — coordinated with Rutledge — that advanced her candidacy. The Arkansas Ethics Commission says no law prohibits this coordination or the lack of disclosure of money sources for the ads. The Republican dominated legislature defeated a bill that would define coordinated advertising as political contributions in the future.