LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas legislature’s Joint Auditing Committee on Friday approved an expedited audit of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ office expenses.
With little fanfare and no debate, the committee passed a recommendation from its executive subcommittee to meet a three-point request from Sen. Jimmy Hickey (R-Texarkana) presented to the committee Thursday.
The request asked for an expedited review of a podium purchase from Beckett Events LLC, a review of expenditures made secret by recent legislation and develop procedures for reporting what is found during a review of confidential material.
The $19,029.25 podium and travel case were purchased and have been at the center of growing controversy about expense accounting. The purchase was later reimbursed by the state Republican party.
Hickey testified to the executive committee that the audit of the podium purchase would clarify who owns it and if its purchase is in line with state property regulations.
The call for a record review came after concerns were raised by government transparency advocates about changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act at the recent legislative special session. A major change was the addition of a provision that removed the governor’s security records from public disclosure retroactive to June. Legislative audit will now review those records.
While the records review is underway, the committee will develop a methodology to receive a report on what was found without interfering with the governor’s security.
In a message to KARK 4 News reporter Samantha Boyd on Thursday, governor’s office spokesperson Alexa Henning called the debate over the podium “nothing more than a manufactured controversy by left wing activists” that she said was an attempt “to distract from the bold conservative reforms the legislature has passed and the governor has signed into law.”
No timeline for the audit has been given. The auditing committee’s next meeting is Nov. 8.