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A $19,000 lectern for Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders sparks call for legislative audit

by Lucas Garcia
2 comments
Governor's Lectern Audit

The purchase of a $19,000 lectern for Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has come under scrutiny and led to calls for a legislative audit. The lectern was acquired in June for $19,029.25 using a state credit card, and the Arkansas Republican Party reimbursed the state for it in August. The legislative panel is set to address a lawmaker’s request for an audit to investigate the purchase.

Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey, who initiated the audit request, emphasized the need for a thorough review by the legislative audit team, known for their comprehensive work. This audit aims to shed light on various aspects of the lectern’s purchase, including its cost, procurement process, and even its existence, which has been a topic of discussion in Arkansas politics recently.

Questions surrounding the lectern have dominated public discourse in the state, with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette even featuring a front-page photo of it after Sanders’ office allowed access to it. While Governor Sanders has welcomed the audit, she has also dismissed concerns about the lectern’s purchase, explaining that the reimbursement came from funds raised for her inauguration.

Sanders commented on the situation, stating, “People want to manufacture a controversy where there isn’t one. But this is something the state’s been reimbursed for, and I think there are some people who are always going to be angry and always looking for something to complain about, and that’s what they’re picking on right now.”

The initial discovery of the lectern’s purchase was made by Matthew Campbell, an attorney and blogger who had previously sued the State Police for withholding records related to Sanders’ travel and security. In response to Campbell’s actions, Sanders called a special legislative session and proposed changes to the state’s open records law. Eventually, a measure limiting public access to her travel and security records was signed into law.

Campbell has emphasized that the issue extends beyond the lectern itself and concerns how Governor Sanders’ office is using state funds. He stated, “Without an audit and without some more information, we don’t know whether this is a case of they’re too incompetent to be trusted with a state credit card because they don’t know what things should cost, or there’s actual criminality.”

Tom Mars, an attorney and former director of the Arkansas State Police under Sanders’ father, former Governor Mike Huckabee, has suggested that Sanders’ office interfered with Campbell’s open records requests. He has a client willing to provide confidential information to legislative auditors, including documents related to the alleged alteration of an invoice from Beckett Events LLC, the Virginia firm listed as the seller of the lectern.

Alexa Henning, a spokeswoman for Sanders, dismissed these allegations as a “manufactured controversy” by left-wing activists. Meanwhile, Hickey’s audit request extends to all matters concerning security and travel records that were retroactively made confidential by the law Sanders signed, covering records dating back to June 2022.

Republican Rep. Jimmy Gazaway, who co-chairs the Legislative Joint Auditing Executive Committee, expressed support for Hickey’s request, emphasizing the importance of addressing this matter of public concern promptly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Governor’s Lectern Audit

What prompted the legislative audit of Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ lectern purchase?

The legislative audit of the lectern purchase was prompted by concerns surrounding the $19,000 expenditure, including questions about its cost, procurement process, and allegations of record alterations.

Who initiated the call for the audit?

Republican Sen. Jimmy Hickey initiated the request for the legislative audit.

Why has the lectern purchase generated controversy in Arkansas?

The lectern’s purchase has raised controversy due to its significant cost, the timing of its acquisition, and allegations of record alterations. It has become a prominent topic in Arkansas politics.

How did the Arkansas Republican Party become involved in the lectern purchase?

The Arkansas Republican Party reimbursed the state for the lectern, which was initially purchased using a state credit card. This reimbursement occurred after the lectern was acquired.

What is the position of Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders regarding the audit?

Governor Sanders has expressed her willingness to welcome the audit but has also dismissed concerns surrounding the lectern’s purchase. She explained that the reimbursement for the lectern came from funds raised for her inauguration.

Who uncovered the initial details of the lectern’s purchase?

Attorney and blogger Matthew Campbell first uncovered details of the lectern’s purchase. He had previously sued the State Police for withholding records related to Sanders’ travel and security.

What broader issues are raised by this situation beyond the lectern purchase?

The situation extends beyond the lectern itself and raises questions about how Governor Sanders’ office is using state funds and potential interference with open records requests.

Who has offered to provide confidential information to legislative auditors regarding record alterations?

Attorney Tom Mars, a former director of the Arkansas State Police, has stated that he has a client willing to provide confidential information to auditors. This includes documents related to the alleged alteration of an invoice from the seller of the lectern.

How does the legislative audit tie into changes in open records laws?

The legislative audit also encompasses matters concerning security and travel records, which were made confidential by a law signed by Governor Sanders. This law covers records dating back to June 2022.

Who supports the request for the legislative audit?

Republican Rep. Jimmy Gazaway, who co-chairs the Legislative Joint Auditing Executive Committee, has expressed support for Senator Hickey’s request and emphasized the importance of addressing this matter of public concern promptly.

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2 comments

TransparencyAdvocate October 5, 2023 - 1:57 pm

Open records r important! glad to see audit goin forward. let’s get answers!

Reply
Anonymous123 October 5, 2023 - 11:47 pm

why dis lectern so expensive? audit sounds like a good idea! y’all think they hid sumthin?

Reply

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