Tolbert: Rutledge Doubles Down On Criticism Of Sterling’s ABA Membership (UPDATED)

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 147 views 

I wrote earlier this week on the seemingly strange attacks from Leslie Rutledge on David Sterling – one of her Republican primary opponents for Attorney General – during the debate on Saturday.  Her criticism centers on his involvement in the American Bar Association (ABA), which she claims is a liberal organization.

On Tuesday, she doubled down on this line of attack in a press release and in an email to supporters.

“One of my opponents David Sterling continues to tout his leadership positions at the American Bar Association, a voluntary organization of lawyers widely recognized for its liberal tilt,” said Rutledge.

Her press release linked to several position the organization (not her opponent) has taken that she says proves her point – supporting marriage equality for same sex marriage, supporting more background checks and prohibiting criminals from owning guns, and a 1990 resolution from the ABA supporting abortion rights.

I will reprint the tame response I received from Sterling for my previous post where I discussed the fact that Arkansas Carry PAC endorsed his campaign.

“The American Bar Association is the largest professional organization of attorneys in the country and does a tremendous amount to advance the profession,” said Sterling. “It is not a political organization. I recently chaired for three years a committee that focuses on providing young lawyers like Ms. Rutledge books and other training materials as they begin their private legal careers. An attorney belonging to the ABA is akin to a doctor belonging to the American Medical Association. Theodore Olson, former Solicitor General under George W. Bush and private counsel to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and many other conservative attorneys, including several Republican Attorneys General from other states, are members of the ABA.”

Now if Rutledge was running against the ABA, I think she might have a point.  But the criticism of Sterling for being a member of this large organization strikes me of a desperate campaign.  It is very common for an attorney to belong to the organization. So common that even Rutledge’s own father – who is also an attorney – is listed as a member and serves as the Judicial Outreach Liaison.

Perhaps Rutledge has some internal polling that shows her during poorly and is grasping for straws.  I don’t know.  But these types of odd attacks are not usually something done by the frontrunner.

UPDATE – The explanation for Rutledge’s bit of peculiar line of attacks may have surfaced today.  A third party conservative group called the American Future Fund is giving Sterling a boost with what I am told is a significant media buy.

“When you or your family is threaten, having the legal right to self defense can be a matter of life and death,” says the ad seen here. “That’s why David Sterling is fighting to pass a stand-your-ground law here in Arkansas.”

The ad goes on to point out that Sterling is a member of the Christian Legal Society, which “fought to protect the unborn and defend religious freedom.”

“David Sterling has been a consistent, conservative leader for Arkansas families. Arkansas families need to know they can feel secure in their neighborhoods and in their homes, and they will have the right to defend themselves and their families. David Sterling is standing up for the security of Arkansas families. The American Future Fund applauds him for his efforts and urges Arkansas families to thank David Sterling for standing for them,” said Nick Ryan, Founder of the American Future Fund and a well-known Republican consultant, particularly in Iowa.

Perhaps Rutledge knew this ad buy was in the works and was attempting – rather poorly – to tarnish him a bit.  Looks to me like it’s backfired on her, but we will see.