More to say today regards a post yesterday in which I noted Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s connection to a group that promoted the rally and march that ended with rioters overrunning the U.S. Capitol.
I noted that Rutledge was a former chair and continuing active member of the Republican Attorneys General Association, as well as an active participant in the lawsuit, rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, to derail an Electoral College vote for Joe Biden. RAGA formed a policy arm several years ago, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, before Rutledge served as RAGA chair in 2018. It is a dark money political influencer. A watchdog group, Documented, reported that the Rule of Law Defense Fund was among the groups that backed the rally and “March to Save America” in Washington Wednesday.
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.”
I reported correctly that Rutledge was tied to this group through her RAGA association. I noted she had issued no statements Wednesday about the riot. Early Thursday, she issued a brief statement condemning violence but made no reference to Trump. Nor did she identify the rioters as Trump supporters.
Late yesterday, I received a note from Stephanie Sharp, who handles communications for Rutledge. She wrote:
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.
I responded to her that there was nothing to correct in the report. I also noted that I had asked her for a comment Wednesday about the riot and Trump’s involvement and she did not respond. I figured any effort to gain a response on the Documented report on RAGA’s role in events would be similarly ignored.
However, since she says she is open to communication now, I posed new questions for Rutledge:
- Should Trump resign or be removed from office and, if not, why not?
- For the record, where was Rutledge Wednesday?
No responses so far.
I received this comment, in full, to those two questions:
2. The AG was not in or around DC on Wednesday.
I’ve attempted a followup, but I suspect this is the extent of the response I can expect. She also offered no response to my questions about her appearance in multiple photos of the Defense Fund that promoted the Wednesday march
An Alabama news organization did get a comment from the Alabama attorney general, Steve Marshall, the current head of the Rule of Law Defense Fund. He, too, adopted the Sgt. Schulz “I know nothing” defense.
“I was unaware of unauthorized decisions made by RLDF staff with regard to this week’s rally. Despite currently transitioning into my role as the newly elected chairman of RLDF, it is unacceptable that I was neither consulted about nor informed of those decisions. I have directed an internal review of this matter. As I said yesterday, I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of those who attempted to storm the U.S. Capitol, a place where passionate but peaceful protestors had gathered and lawmakers debated inside. Our country is built upon the foundation of the rule of law. American democracy guarantees the right of peaceful protest. Those who chose to engage in violence and anarchy should and will be held accountable under the law.”
Marshall did not say what the “unauthorized decisions” were.
The RAGA named Marshall chairman of its policy branch in November.
RAGA Executive Director Adam Piper also released a statement that denied involvement but that also mentioned an unauthorized staff decision without being specific
The attorneys general connection is drawing increasing attention, with reports from Montana, Georgia, Louisana and other points. All are hiding as Rutledge has, beyond pointing to the packaged denials.
I understand why Rutledge, a candidate for governor in 2022 would want to distance herself from her organization’s activities. But you can’t wash the stink off from RAGA’s years of politicking on Trump’s behalf and Rutledge’s devotion to that cause, including her democracy-attacking, failed lawsuit. Whether she had direct involvement or participation in its support of the “stop the steal” exhortation or not, she carries the virus along with all RAGA members. Note that her statement does NOT repudiate the Defense Fund involvement, but merely refers that question to others.
I’ve also asked Sharp for comment on the assembly of Defense Fund photos prominently featuring Rutledge. They seem proud of her if she not so much of them — today at least.
UPDATE: Democratic AGs weigh in.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) Co-Chairs Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Nevada AG Aaron Ford released the following statement in response to reporting that the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and its c4, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, helped organize the protest preceding the attack on the U.S. Capitol that took place on January 6, 2021.
Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Nevada AG Aaron Ford, Co-Chairs of the Democratic Attorneys General Association
“The continued peddling of conspiracy theories and pandering to President Trump’s dangerous lies by the Republican Attorneys General Association, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, and some current and former Republican Attorneys General has gone unchecked for too long. Current and former Republican AGs have been directly involved with efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election, and now the party of so-called ‘law and order’ played a role in recruiting the domestic terrorists who breached the U.S. Capitol to attack Vice President Mike Pence for doing his Constitutionally-mandated job to certify the Electoral College.”
“RAGA, RLDF—and the Republican AGs who blindly take their support—have no legal or moral ground on which to stand here: the organization paid for robocalls to recruit attendees, it was listed as a sponsor of the event, its former Chair spoke at the rally that incited a mob, and former GOP AG Josh Hawley led the effort in Congress to undermine the election.”
“The committee’s unfortunate choice to compare insurrectionists and white nationalists who stormed the Capitol to Americans protesting this summer for racial justice further illustrates the radical and racist underpinnings of RAGA’s most recent efforts.”
“It is not enough for Republican Attorneys General to denounce the violence at the Capitol; they must publicly distance themselves from the Republican Attorneys General Association and its leadership. And we encourage any individual and entities financially-backing the committee to abstain from further supporting an organization that makes such a mockery of the rule of law and our beloved democracy.”
“Leadership requires taking responsibility for your actions. It’s now or never.”
There is a Trump opposition group, coincidentally named Republicans for the Rule of Law, that has turned out this video urging Trump’s immediate removal from office.