Republican State Attorneys General Association Dark Money Group Organized Protests Preceding Capitol Mob Attack. https://t.co/OUSxfUgoNX
— David Menschel (@davidminpdx) January 7, 2021
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, as I noted yesterday, was absent from a tepid news release from other Republican attorneys general denouncing the violence in Washington but carefully avoiding identifying the mob as Trump supporters or mentioning his role inciting them.
Could be because she is connected to a group that backed the mob’s gathering, as noted by a watchdog group, Documented, that tracks the influence of corporate money in politics.
The Rule of Law Defense Fund, an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, was a supporter of the march and gathering that turned into the attack on the Capitol. It’s a dark money group, though the Kochs and the Judicial Crisis Network (a dark money player in Arkansas Supreme Court races) have been identified as supporters. RAGA, which has been chaired by Rutledge, is notorious for pumping corporate interests for money to advance mutual political objectives — against environmental regulation particularly. More here about RAGA and Rutledge’s corporate buck raking.
RLDF appeared in a list of groups “Participating in the March to Save America” alongside entities including Stop the Steal, Turning Point Action, Tea Party Patriots and others.
RLDF also sent out a robocall detailing where and when the protest would take place.
“I’m calling for the Rule of Law Defense Fund with an important message,” the robocall stated. “The march to save America is tomorrow in Washington D.C. at the Ellipse in President’s Park between E St. and Constitution Avenue on the south side of the White House, with doors opening at 7:00 a.m. At 1:00 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on congress to stop the steal. We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections. For more information, visit MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. This call is paid for and authorized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, 202-796-5838.”
RLDF’s role in organizing the protests, which turned into a violent mob attack inside the Capitol, is ironic given its 2020 election campaign warning of “lawless liberal mobs” burning down buildings and committing violence. The campaign, dubbed “Lawless Liberals”, came in the aftermath of the largely peaceful protests following the murder of George Floyd by police and the shooting of Jacob Blake.
“The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA)’s five-month Lawless Liberals video campaign repeatedly warned Americans about the dangerous reality of lawless liberals run amok in cities across the country,” RAGA said in a statement.
Of course, Rutledge joined in the “lawless liberal” campaign, as in this news release.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge: “Unfortunately, Democrats have learned nothing from their dangerous push to defund the police as violence and anarchy has continued to run rampant over the last 100 days. We cannot allow the Democrats to continue to politicize nationwide civil unrest and put Americans in danger. We must support our brave women and men in law enforcement and create unity through civil discourse, not endless civil unrest.”
She couldn’t very well condemn a march, no matter how dangerous, her organization helped promote, right? Or condemn an action that drew inspiration from her effort to join other Republicans in a bogus lawsuit to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president?
Twelve hours after her peeps ransacked the Capitol, Rutledge finally issued this trite boilerplate:
We are a nation of laws. Violence and destruction cannot be tolerated. Peaceful protests are protected but dangerous actions are not. Thank you to the brave law enforcement for always standing in the gap. Join me in praying for our United States.
— Leslie Rutledge (@LeslieRutledge) January 7, 2021
Far too little. Far too late. She should resign from a job that she likes to describe as the “chief law enforcement officer of Arkansas.”
UPDATE: I heard late last night from a spokesman for Rutledge. Her note:
Please retract your incorrect reporting involving Attorney General Rutledge. I have copied a statement from AG Rutledge below.
“I had no knowledge or role regarding any efforts made by RAGA or RLDF as to this issue. Contact RAGA or RLDF for any further questions.”
In the future, please reach out to us for comment regarding any stories you are writing about AG Rutledge. We are here to comment.
There is nothing to correct. Rutledge is a former chair of RAGA. The “defense fund” is a creation of that group. Rutledge was an active participant in a lawsuit that sought to prevent the Electoral College vote. She was a quoted participant in a months-long campaign to defend Trump, all key elements raising the temperature for Wednesday’s riots. I said only that she was connected to a group that demonstrably help organize the rally and march that led to the riot. That is correct.
I had also sought a comment from Rutledge’s office Wednesday about the riot. They did not respond. So I thought asking about this connection would be futile. But since they have now asked to communicate I asked this question:
Does Rutledge think Trump should resign or be removed? And, if not, why not?
I’ve had a lot more to say about this, plus photos of Rutledge on the Legal Defense Fund webpage, in a subsequent post.