Arkansas attorney general investigating former lawmakers in corruption probe

Posted: October 10, 2018 at 1:12 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2018 at 5:10 p.m.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge speaks to media at Trump Tower in this 2016 file photo.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Wednesday that her office is investigating former lawmakers as part of an ongoing Medicaid corruption probe into Preferred Family Healthcare.

Rutledge made the revelation during the opening minutes of her debate against her re-election rivals — Democrat Mike Lee and Libertarian Kerry Hicks — which was being taped at the University of Central Arkansas.

During the summer, Rutledge told reporters her office was investigating an undisclosed number of lawmakers. At the time, she similarly declined to provide additional information, citing the ongoing investigation.

During the debate, both Hicks and Lee said Rutledge had not done enough to go after corruption at the state Capitol, where seven current and former lawmakers have faced criminal indictments in recent years.

Rutledge’s opponents suggested that Rutledge had ceded her authority to federal authorities, who have earned convictions against several lawmakers for accepting kickbacks.

While Rutledge’s office has announced charges against other individuals in the Preferred Family case, it has not charged any lawmakers.

A federal public corruption investigation has resulted in guilty pleas from Preferred Family's former chief clinical officer, its former director of Arkansas operations, its former internal auditor, its paid Pennsylvania-based political consultant and former Arkansas Rep. Eddie Cooper, who worked for the firm.

Read Thursday's Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the employment status of the people Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said her office is investigating. They are former lawmakers, she said.