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story.lead_photo.caption 2015 Handout photo of Lee Rudofsky

Arkansas Solicitor General Lee Rudofsky publicly announced Wednesday that he is resigning after serving three years as the state's top trial attorney and will take a job with Walmart.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who oversees the solicitor's office, appointed former Deputy Solicitor General Nicholas Bronni, a Camden native, to fill the post full time.

Rudofsky, a New York native, had been the first attorney general's office employee to use the title of solicitor general since the early 1990s. Rutledge resurrected the post upon assuming office in 2015.

Before that, the duties of arguing the state's cases before the Arkansas Supreme Court, federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court had been delegated to top deputies in the attorney general's office, as well as to past attorneys general.

In an email to Rutledge on June 28, Rudofsky said he was leaving to accept a position with Walmart's Ethics and Compliance Department. He worked for the company in Northwest Arkansas before joining the attorney general's office.

Rudofsky's last day at the attorney general's office will be July 20.

"The move is bittersweet," Rudofsky said in the email. "I will miss dearly the large number of friends and colleagues I have come to know and admire over the course of my time at the AG's office."

While in office, Rudofsky handled many of the oral arguments in 2017 as the state battled numerous lawsuits over its attempt to execute eight inmates in a two-week period. Four of the executions were carried out, and four were halted.

During oral arguments before the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2016, Rudofsky proposed a narrow fix to the state's birth certificate statutes that same-sex couples had argued treated them unfairly. The Arkansas justices opted to go with Rudofsky's broader argument that the statutes were entirely constitutional, only to have the U.S. Supreme Court overrule them. Eventually, the state settled on a solution last December that was similar to Rudofsky's original proposal.

In a statement Wednesday, Rutledge praised Rudofsky for work in a case that led to Arkansas terminating Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood.

"Lee has been a trusted advisor and a key member of my staff over the past three years," Rutledge wrote. "He has been a stalwart defender of the rule of law and represented Arkansans honorably during his time in public service."

Rudofsky's replacement, Bronni, joined the attorney general's office in April 2016, according to a news release. He also argued in court on several high-profile cases, including those involving executions.

A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Bronni formerly worked in appellate and Supreme Court litigation at the Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher law firm in Washington, D.C.

"I look forward to using my experience to continue to assist Attorney General Rutledge in protecting Arkansans from criminals and scam artists as well as push back against federal overreach," Bronni said in a statement.

Bronni lives in Little Rock with his wife and daughters.

Metro on 07/12/2018

Print Headline: State solicitor general stepping down to accept ethics role with Walmart

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