AG candidate decries attack ad by out-of-state group


LITTLE ROCK — A Republican candidate for attorney general says an out-of-state group’s attempt to portray her as soft on gun rights is “ridiculous.”

Little Rock lawyer Leslie Rutledge is targeted in a television ad by the Judicial Crisis Network that says she opposes so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws and that her position is shared “with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.”

“These ridiculous, manipulative attacks are an attempt by a secret group, with secret donors and a secret agenda, to manipulate Arkansas’ attorney general election for an unknown reason,” Rutledge said in a statement issued Thursday evening.

The Judicial Crisis Network is a 501(c)(4) organization and is not required to reveal its donors. It did not immediately respond to an email Friday.

Rutledge faces Little Rock lawyer David Sterling in a June 10 runoff election. The winner will face Democratic state Rep. Nate Steel of Nashville and libertarian Aaron Cash in the November general election.

Sterling has said that if elected his legislative agenda would include a “Stand Your Ground” law that would eliminate the requirement that a person retreat, if possible, before using deadly force in self defense in a public place.

Rutledge has said she does not have a legislative agenda but is a strong supporter of gun rights.

“I have the highest possible rating from the National Rifle Association, am an NRA member, carry a Glock 27 .40-caliber and hold a concealed carry license,” Rutledge said in her statement Thursday. “I 100 percent support the right of any individual in the state of Arkansas to defend him/herself if attacked. As attorney general, I will make it a priority to ensure that our Second Amendment right is protected.”

The Judicial Crisis Network responded Friday to Rutledge’s statement by posting to its website a video clip of a 2013 interview in which a reporter asked Rutledge, “Are you comfortable with where our laws are on duty to retreat right now?” and Rutledge answered, “Yes.”

Rutledge also said in her statement, “If my opponent and his secretive supporters are willing to lie and distort reality to win votes, how can he be trusted as our attorney general? Was there a deal cut to get an out of state group to lie and manipulate the truth in order to buy our attorney general’s office?”

Sterling said Friday he had nothing to do with the ad and was “appalled that she would suggest something like that.”

“She’s accusing me of violating federal law by coordinating (with a 501(c)(4) group),” he said. “Let me be real clear: There’s been no coordination between me and this outside group.”