Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s lack of action on a requested lawsuit to recover ill-gotten state money from Ecclesia College (mentioned here yesterday) brings insight from a lawyer in a related suit that suggests there’s a reason she hasn’t moved forward.
Northwest Arkansas Republican legislators poured more than $600,000 in constitutionally dubious contributions of surplus tax money (the General Improvement Fund) to the church/college,
The item on the Arkansas Blog brought a comment from Matt Bishop, a Fayetteville lawyer. He writes:
The story is actually even more interesting politically than your recent blog post indicates. Joey McCutchen filed an illegal exaction lawsuit to recover the Ecclesia money already. He invited me to join him in the case. As part of that case, we sent subpoenas to two of the legislators that gave money to Ecclesia, Charlie Collins and Jim Dotson. Rather than simply share what they knew and what Ecclesia had told them about their plans for the money, they chose to assert a legislative privilege. They did not have to assert that privilege and could have simply waived it and testified, assisting us in recovering the taxpayers’ money.
The attorney general filed a motion to quash the subpoenas. In that motion to quash, the attorney general did not just invoke legislative privilege, her office claimed that they could not pursue the case because the money had already been spent. The motion, which claimed a couple of other reasons the AG claimed the taxpayers could not recover, is attached, as is our reply.
The judge ultimately ruled the legislative privilege applied, so Mr. Collins’ and Mr. Dotson’s efforts to avoid assisting the taxpayers in recovering the money were successful.
Here’s Rutledge motion to quash subpoenas that argues there’s no basis for the illegal exaction lawsuit because the money has been spent and because the former college president, also convicted in the scam. has been ordered to make restitution.
This is the response to Rutledge’s motion to quash the subpoenas.