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Democratic Party Staff Member Files Lawsuit for Rutledge’s Personnel File

Rutledge

by Tyler Hale

A Democratic Party of Arkansas staff member has filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Human Services to compel the agency to release personnel records for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Attorney Chris Burks filed the lawsuit on behalf of Reed Brewer, DPA communications director, this morning in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Cindy Gillespie, in her capacity as Arkansas DHS Director, for a “refusal to provide public records.”

According to the lawsuit, Brewer filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Monday, July 2, seeking Rutledge’s personnel file while she was an agency employee and all communication to the present day between DHS officials and Rutledge. DHS reportedly acknowledged the request on July 5 and requested a five-day extension, which Brewer did not agreed to.

Under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, government entities typically have three days to provide documents have been requested under FOIA.

DHS requested another extension on July 25, and Brewer granted an extension until July 25 for the personnel file and Aug. 3 for the emails. On July 27, Brewer received a 51-page personnel file that reportedly “does not include all job performance records and personnel file records.”

In the lawsuit, Brewer contends that the file he received was the “exact same 51-page document released in 2014.”

Brewer is asking the court to find that Gillespie failed to comply with the FOIA request “either in bad faith or negligently” and order the agency to provide the documents.

In a phone interview, Brewer said his intent with the lawsuit is to determine why Rutledge was terminated as an employee at DHS, citing a “public interest” in the issue. According to Brewer, the issue of Rutledge’s DHS termination “has been in the news cycle” for several years and needs to be resolved.

Rutledge responded to the lawsuit with a written statement, claiming the Democratic Party is “dragging up decade-old fake news.”

“As I said in 2014 and the record is clear: I voluntarily resigned my position with DHS on December 3, 2007, to immediately begin working on my friend and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign,” Rutledge said.  “On December 13, 2007 — ten days after my voluntary resignation — my former supervisors at DHS scratched out ‘voluntary’ and altered my personnel file to reflect something that was completely false without any notice to me or legal justification for doing so.”

A call to the Department of Human Services for comment was not returned.

Brewer is asking for the lawsuit to be heard within seven days to determine the merits of the case.

Read Arkansas Money & Politics for further updates on the story.

Check out more coverage on Attorney General Leslie Rutledge here.

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