Thu, Feb 8, 2024 12:05 PM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
A final report on the purchase of a lectern by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' office will be released in late March, a committee was told on Thursday.
Members of the Arkansas Joint Legislative Joint Auditing Committee agreed to an audit of the purchase on Oct. 13, 2023. Arkansas Legislative Audit staff began work immediately, auditor Roger Norman told the committee.
"To date, our staff has formally interviewed 20 individuals involved in the purchase of the podium, or reimbursement to the state for the purchase of the podium," Norman said. "Interviews started the week of Oct. 16, 2023. Field work will continue at least through next week."
The report is in the draft stages and should be finalized by the end of March, barring any delays, Norman said. The co-chairs can choose to release the final report early, call a special committee meeting, or place it on the agenda of a regular meeting, he said.
The purchase of the podium for more than $19,000 was initially paid for on a state credit card, Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, told a committee in October. The expenditure was reimbursed by the Republican Party of Arkansas the day Sanders signed changes to the state's Freedom of Information Act into law, he said.
"On that podium purchase, whether it was a coincidence or whether it was not, I know that the Senate, we adjourned on 10:02 on the 14th of September. We had a bill signing that was somewhere close to noon and then I found out even this week that that reimbursement was actually done the same day that we left out of here," Hickey said.
Blogger Matt Campbell, who writes the Blue Hog Report, first showed a copy of the invoice on X, the social media site known as Twitter, after obtaining it through an open records request.