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Rutledge’s Statement on Helena-West Helena Police Officer Killed in the Line of Duty

Rutledge’s Statement on Helena-West Helena Police Officer Killed in the Line of Duty

Fri, Nov 13, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following the announcement Helena-West Helena Police Officer Travis Wallace was killed in the line of duty Thursday evening.

“My heart again goes out to the family of Helena-West Helena Police Officer Travis Wallace who was tragically killed in the line of duty Thursday night,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Officer Wallace was known for his unwavering service to his community and commitment to protecting the people of Helena-West Helena. His family and fellow officers are in my heart and prayers during this unimaginable time. With two Arkansas police officers killed in the line of duty in just over a month, I again implore all Arkansans to join with me in daily fervent prayer for the safety of our law enforcement officers.”

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Rutledge’s Statement on SCOTUS Hearing to Invalidate Obamacare

Rutledge’s Statement on SCOTUS Hearing to Invalidate Obamacare

Tue, Nov 10, 2020

Says, ‘we are one step closer to righting the constitutional wrong of the individual mandate and also providing Americans much-needed clarity when it comes to their healthcare’

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following today’s oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court, during which it considered the claim of an 18-state coalition including Arkansas that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional.

“The Obamacare arguments are finally behind us, and we are one step closer to righting the constitutional wrong of the individual mandate and also providing Americans much-needed clarity when it comes to their healthcare,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans have long demanded better, and they deserve it. I continue to call on Congress to work together to create a comprehensive healthcare law that will work with states and provide coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”

In 2012, a majority of the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare against a constitutional challenge because it said the individual mandate was a valid exercise of Congress’s tax power. But a different majority also held that Congress did not have the power to impose the individual mandate under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. As Chief Justice Roberts explained, and the four-justice dissent agreed, the Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce — but not to compel it, which is what the individual mandate does.

In 2017, Congress eliminated the tax portion of the individual mandate as part of President Donald J. Trump’s tax overhaul. Rutledge then joined a multistate lawsuit filed in a Texas federal court, arguing that Congress rendered Obamacare unconstitutional by doing away with the tax penalty.

Judge Reed O’Connor of the Texas federal court agreed and ruled that the individual mandate was no longer valid under Congress’s tax power. Applying the Supreme Court’s 2012 holding that the Commerce Clause could not support the individual mandate, Judge O’Connor struck it down as unconstitutional. He then ruled that Congress would not have passed Obamacare without the individual mandate because it was an essential part of the law. Therefore, he also invalidated the entire law.

A group of states led by California had joined the lawsuit to defend Obamacare, and they appealed Judge O’Connor’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In December 2019, however, the Fifth Circuit rejected California’s arguments and agreed instead with those made by the 18-state coalition including Arkansas: that Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court cases are California v. Texas, No. 19-840, and Texas v. California, No. 19-1019. More detail on the states’ arguments is available in the parties’ court filings, which can be found here on the Supreme Court’s public docket.

In addition to Arkansas, the coalition – led by Texas – includes the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

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Rutledge, Coalition of Attorneys General, File Amicus Brief in Pennsylvania Supreme Court Voting Case

Rutledge, Coalition of Attorneys General, File Amicus Brief in Pennsylvania Supreme Court Voting Case

Mon, Nov 9, 2020

Says, ‘It is imperative that every legal vote be counted’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today joined a coalition of 10 state attorneys general, led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, in filing an amicus brief in Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar. The brief urges the Supreme Court of the United States to grant certiorari and reverse a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowing mail-in ballots to be received three days after Election Day, even without postmarks.

“It is imperative that every legal vote be counted and every illegal vote not be counted,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The integrity of each election is paramount to the future of our great country. Americans must not be kept in the dark and we must shed light on the discrepancies littering this election.”

The brief makes three main arguments. First, it argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its authority and encroached on the authority of the legislature in ruling that ballots received three days after election can be accepted, including ballots with an illegible postmark or no postmark at all. Second, the brief details how voting by mail creates a risk of voter fraud, including in Pennsylvania. And lastly, it explains how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision exacerbated these risks of absentee ballot fraud.

The brief finishes by urging the Supreme Court of the United States to grant certiorari, grant expedited review, and reverse the decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Along with Arkansas, attorneys general from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Florida also joined the brief.

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Rutledge Announces Virtual Never Forgotten for 9th Annual Training and Family Session

Rutledge Announces Virtual Never Forgotten for 9th Annual Training and Family Session

Mon, Nov 9, 2020

Arkansas Representative Petty will Keynote the Event

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the 9th Annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event will be hosted virtually for 2020. On December 1st, Rutledge will host a law enforcement training as well as an evening family session. To accommodate more families, Rutledge will host another family session on Saturday, December 5th. Arkansas State Representative Rebecca Petty will keynote both events discussing her personal experience when her daughter, Andi, was kidnapped and murdered by a family member in 1999. The event was established to raise awareness of the challenges associated with missing persons cases for families and law enforcement officials while also recognizing Arkansas’s missing children and adults. Registration is open for families and law enforcement.

“I am honored to have Representative Petty keynote the event because through the devastating loss of her daughter, she has done so much for her community and state by sharing her story and advocating for those families of the missing,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action has developed into an important platform to provide law enforcement and families of the missing with the necessary training, resources and support,”

The law enforcement training begins at 9:30 a.m. with Colleen Nick from the Morgan Nick Foundation and Mike Nance with National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) who will speak about resources to provide families in missing persons cases. This program will also offer an overview of Amber, Silver and Endangered Missing Alerts by the Arkansas State Police.

During the family sharing sessions, families will have the opportunity to share their personal stories and connect with other families in a virtual setting. Open discussion will also be held with representatives from the Arkansas Crime Information Center, Arkansas State Crime Lab, Arkansas State Police and the FBI.

This program has been approved for three hours of Continuing Law Enforcement Standards Credit (CLEST). Approval of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) is pending.

In 2018, Rutledge released the first comprehensive resource guide for families of missing which is available to be downloaded or ordered for free at ArkansasAG.gov and NeverForgotten.ar.gov.

For more information about the event or other trainings offered by Attorney General’s Office, please visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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Rutledge’s Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Brief to Uphold Arkansas’s Medicaid Expansion Community-Engagement Requirement

Rutledge’s Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Brief to Uphold Arkansas’s Medicaid Expansion Community-Engagement Requirement

Wed, Nov 4, 2020

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed a reply brief in support of the State’s petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and uphold Arkansas Works’ community-engagement demonstration project.

“Arkansas Works is a pilot expansion program designed to encourage able-bodied Arkansans without dependents to transition into the workforce, building a stronger, more resilient connection with their communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to review those requirements and reaffirm Arkansas’s commitment to making the Medicaid program more sustainable and helping Arkansans obtain employment.”

In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision to vacate Arkansas Works. The U.S. Department of Justice is also seeking review in support of Arkansas’s case.

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Rutledge Announces Lawsuits Involving Illegal Pyramid Schemes

Rutledge Announces Lawsuits Involving Illegal Pyramid Schemes

Tue, Nov 3, 2020

Says, ‘Don’t be fooled by testimonials that these schemes work’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the first step in a law enforcement sweep against illegal pyramid schemes organized and operated in Arkansas. The State has filed lawsuits in Faulkner and Saline Counties alleging Defendants represented to consumers that they could earn a 700% return on investment and “bless” their communities by joining a “Blessing Loom” board and recruiting others to do the same. No products or services were offered in exchange for the payment, only the opportunity to earn money. But, when new participants stopped joining and the pyramids’ organizers started using consumers’ money as their own, consumers lost every dollar contributed and unwittingly participated in illegal pyramid schemes.

“These lawsuits demonstrated that we will not stand by while con artists use deceptive tactics to dupe consumers into get-rich-quick schemes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As scam artists find new ways to exploit consumers’ economic fears during the coronavirus pandemic, my office will tirelessly work to hold these bad actors accountable for swindling Arkansans out of their money with promises of large payouts and community goodwill. Remember, when people pay a fee for the opportunity to earn money simply by recruiting others into a program, those people are likely involved in an illegal pyramid scheme. Don’t be fooled by testimonials that these schemes work.”

Rutledge’s suit filed in Faulkner County alleges the Lackland family violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) by organizing and operating a pyramid scheme they called “Passionate Minds Circle of Wealth.” Within eight months, more than $320,000 was deposited into separate bank accounts held by Scottie Lackland and his wife Valentina from Marion, their adult daughter Sydney Lackland from Marion, and their son Scottie D. Lackland II from Conway, who is also employed as a Little Rock Police Officer. Consumers were encouraged to join with a $500 “gift” that would grow into a $4,000 “blessing” in just 28 days, but, instead, the Lacklands converted consumers’ money and used it to pay off their debt, bolster their savings accounts, and purchase luxury goods and services, including plastic surgery.

Rutledge’s suit filed in Saline County alleges similar ADTPA violations were made by Alexander-resident Ramona McGee, who is employed by the Little Rock School District as a coach at Pulaski Heights Middle School. McGee held weekly meetings to recruit participants to join the pyramid scheme she organized, called the “Family Blessing Circle.” In exchange for a $1,400 “donation,” McGee represented participants would receive $11,200 in four to six weeks. Over just a few months, she deposited tens of thousands of dollars into her checking account and used that money to pay for vacations, shopping sprees and jewelry. Consumers were left with nothing to show for their spent money.

Each Defendant faces a $10,000 fine for each violation of the ADTPA.

Attorney General Rutledge has identified several tips for Arkansans to use in protecting themselves against pyramid schemes:

  • If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Know that large sums of money generally do not result from small investments.
  • Be wary of “opportunities” to invest your money in programs that require you to bring in subsequent investors to increase your profit or recoup your initial investment.
  • Just because something appears to be fun and was shared by a friend or family member, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk.
  • Independently verify the legitimacy of any investment before you invest.

For more tips to help avoid falling victim to schemes similar to this, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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