Michael Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office said it could no longer represent Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his chief of staff Jim Harris in a defamation suit by former employee David Singer because of a potential conflict of interest and the office would have to retain private counsel.
They’ve done so. And the office will still use public money to pay for the representation, beginning with a $20,000 retainer.
But what is the conflict?
State law says this about when conflicts arise:
When situations arise in which the Attorney General feels that a conflict of interest exists and therefore must decline representation of the officer or employee, the Attorney General shall prepare a report that he or she shall submit to the House Interim Committee on Judiciary and Senate Interim Committee on Judiciary, in which he or she shall recite the reasons for the conflict of interest and the reasons his or her office declined representation.
I asked the attorney general’s office for a copy of such a report, if filed. The response, in full:
I don’t see reasons for the conflict of interest in this response, though the office says this response satisfies the statute. They perhaps emerged during mediation aimed at settling this dispute earlier. I have no idea.
I am confident, however, that Milligan’s tenure — given the controversy and embarrassment it’s already caused, not to mention spending of taxpayer money for mistaken hirings, legal fees and the like — promises still more entertainment.