LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A member of the Arkansas Senate has requested an audit of the governor’s office related to its purchase of a podium.

Sen. Jimmy Hickey Jr. (R-Texarkana) addressed a letter requesting the audit to Sen. David Wallace (R-Greenway) and Rep. Jim Gazaway (R-Paragould) who are senior members of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, a non-partisan body. 

Hickey asked for a legislative audit of two items:

1 – The purchase of a podium or lectern from Beckett Events LLC for use by the governor’s office.

2 – “All matters, involving the Governor or the Governor’s Office, made confidential by Section 4(a) of Act 7 of the First Extraordinary Session of 2023.”

The podium has been reported by multiple state sources as a $19,029.25 expense, including credit card charges. It was reportedly purchased by the governor’s office in June. 

Act 7 was a bill passed by the legislature making changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Section 4(a) of Act 7 was what made the changes increasing limits to gubernatorial records retroactive to June 2022.

Shortly after Act 7 was passed by the legislature, with far less scope than had originally been sought by the governor’s office, the Republican Party of Arkansas reimbursed the governor’s office for the podium. An accounting error was cited as causing the delay.

Hickey also requested in a second letter that legislative audit develop procedures for audit in light of the FOIA changes.

Long-time legislator Hickey said in an interview with the Arkansas Times on Thursday that looking at the retroactive nature of the governor-requested FOIA changes coupled with the podium expense struck him as the most prudent approach.

Sanders spokesperson Alexa Henning said on social media that the governor “welcomes the audit and encourages legislators to complete it without delay.”

The legislative audit website shows its next committee meeting will take place Oct. 13, where Hickey’s request will presumably be considered.