I speculated earlier that Driving Arkansas Forward, one of the groups pushing a ballot initiative to allow the building of casinos, might join in a lawsuit against Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who has rejected proposals for such initiatives 69 times and approved zero.
The group did just that this afternoon, filing a motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Committee to Restore Akansans’ Rights, a group seeking to put an amendment on the ballot that would clarify the law on sovereign immunity. Attorney Alex Gray is representing both groups. The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court and is slated to be heard before Judge Wendell Griffen on May 18.
The case has huge implications for the future of ballot initiatives in the state. And a bit of drama, with a question still hanging over whether Rutledge herself will be forced to testify.
The lawsuit, as explained in detail in my earlier post, challenges the constitutionality of the statute Rutledge has used to reject ballot initiatives again and again; even if the court finds that the statute itself is constitutional, the lawsuit argues that Rutledge’s application of that statute is not.
The hearing on May 18 could get colorful: Gray has subpoenaed Rutledge to testify. The attorney general moved to quash the subpoena. Gray today responded to the motion to quash. It’s salty. A sample:
Around 100 pages of exhibits were also filed today by Gray on behalf of Driving Arkansas Forward.
Driving Arkansas Forward’s proposal would allow casinos at Southland Park in West Memphis and Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs (both currently operate euphemistic “electronic games of skill”), as well as in Jefferson and Pope counties. Jefferson County is the primary target for a casino likely to be backed by the Quapaw and Cherokee tribes, both operators of Oklahoma casinos. Lobbyist Don Tilton, who represents the Quapaw tribe, chairs the committee, which is represented by a law firm — Steel, Wright, Gray and Hutchinson — stacked with current and former legislators.