LEE: Hits Rutledge's "massive pay raises."

Mike Lee, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, has slammed Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for a round of fat pay raises for her staff — a standout record in all of state government according to an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette analysis.

Said Lee:

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is giving massive pay raises to her office. Three of the top five pay hikes in the entire state are in her office. Eight employees are getting raises of more than $10,000 while another seven get raises greater than $9,000 (read more).

This comes after Rutledge actively worked to deny the people of Arkansas the right to vote on raising the minimum wage. The state Supreme Court had to force her to stop denying the rights of citizens to petition and put a measure on the November ballot. Mike Lee believes the attorney general’s office should put the people first.

“The hard working people of Arkansas deserve good pay. It’s unseemly of my opponent to deny Arkansans the right to vote on the minimum wage, while using state coffers to give her own team a pay raise. I pledge to never use your tax dollars to deny working people a pay raise, while instead enriching my own staff.”

Arkansans expect an attorney general, who not only knows how to delegate to staff, but who can do the hard work for themselves.

In Rutledge’s office, Nicholas Bronni got a $23,000 raise to $140,000, biggest in state government, for promotion from deputy to top solicitor general (legal advocate in court apeals).

In all, Rutledge dished out almost $527,000 in pay raises, or an average of  $3,400 to 154 employees.

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They include Assistant Attorney General Nga Mahfouz’s $19,100 raise to $110,000; Assistant Attorney General Shawn Johnson’s $17,924 raise to $110,000; Deputy Attorney General William Jones’ $15,000 raise to $115,000; Deputy Attorney General Brian Bowen’s $15,000 raise to $115,000; Assistant Attorney General Holly Johnson’s $12,122 raise to $110,000; Assistant Attorney General Cassandra Hudson’s $11,020 raise to $110,000; and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Merritt’s $11,020 raise to $110,000.

Those getting $9,000-plus raises include Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Warford, a $9,910 raise to $120,000; Deputy Attorney General Monty Baugh, a $9,910 raise to $120,000; Deputy Attorney General Charles Harder, a $9,829 raise to $120,000; Chief Deputy Attorney General Julie Benafield’s $9,159 raise to $135,000; Executive Assistant Dawnetta Calhoun, a $9,398 raise to $64,948; and Assistant Attorney Generals William Bird’s and Gary Sullivan’s $9,100 raises to $100,000 apiece.

A spokesman said Rutledge had won approval from the legislature for a pay scale “commensurate with those of other state employees.”