In response to my request, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office has provided total spending in fiscal 2021, which ended Wednesday, on TV and radio advertising.
It shows $730,804 on TV and $238,783 on radio, for a total of $969,587. It’s the second-biggest annual ad expenditure since she took office in January 2015, but less than half her outlay the previous year.
I haven’t yet received specific invoices and I’m also waiting for an answer to the question of whether there might be other invoices yet to come for the just-finished fiscal year.
I also inquired about scheduled buys for the new fiscal year. Her spokeswoman, Amanda Priest, responded: “We are reviewing the great need of Arkansans to hear from Attorney General Rutledge as evidenced by the response of thousands of calls and emails per week into the office following the effective use of the PSAs, and we will plan future PSA use accordingly.”
It’s her second-biggest year of spending, though less than the $2.2 million spent in fiscal 2020, an amount that has been challenged as an illegal exaction in a pending lawsuit. Several legislators also expressed interest in limits on attorney general spending, but nothing came of it.
Rutledge’s advertising, after a round of controversy last year, no longer includes her image and voice-over. The latest round of ads, ubiquitous during TV news time slots, urges people to report Medicaid fraud.
Her office provided this breakdown of the attorney general’s office spending, beginning during Dustin McDaniel’s era. Rutledge took office on Jan. 13, 2015. She is running for governor (as did McDaniel briefly during the year his spending jumped up) and these ads provide additional exposure courtesy of public dollars. The money comes from awards won by the office in state consumer lawsuits, but it becomes public money in her hands and is the product of taxpayer-financed work.