HomeTop StoriesGov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' purchase of $19,000 lectern may violate state law

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ purchase of $19,000 lectern may violate state law

Arkansas Government Sarah Huckabee SandersAccording to an investigation conducted by a state audit firm, the office may have violated state laws with the purchase of a $19,000 lectern.

The report, released Monday by the Arkansas Legislative Audit, found there was “possible non-compliance with the Arkansas Code regarding transactions and events related to the purchase of the stage and road case.”

The custom-made lectern was paid for in June 2023 with a government credit card. Sanders’ office has said the card was used for an accounting error, and the Arkansas Republican Party refunded the state for the purchase in September.

The wood-paneled lectern in the governor's conference room at the Arkansas Capitol, Tuesday.  (Andrew DeMillo/AP)

The wood-paneled lectern in the governor’s conference room at the Arkansas Capitol, Tuesday. (Andrew DeMillo/AP)

The transaction came to light last year after blogger Matt Campbell, who now reports for the Arkansas Times, filed Freedom of Information Act requests about the spending. He said just the Arkansas GOP refunded the state after its FOIA request was filed.

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Potential violations identified by the audit related to the lectern include payment for the items before delivery, claiming them as a business expense even though that was not applicable, shredding the bill of lading by an employee in the office of Sanders and changing public opinion. register by including handwritten “reimbursable” notes on two of the three invoices.

An invoice breaking down the bill listed the cost of the lectern at an exorbitant amount of $11,575, as well as an otherwise unexplained $2,500 “consulting fee,” the audit said. The lectern housing and shipping costs for both items made up the remainder of the $19,000.

The Arkansas Legislative Audit said it was “unable to determine the reasonableness” of the lectern costs or consulting fees. Sanders declined to speak to the agency during the review, and several suppliers did not respond to his attempts to confirm details of the transaction.

It is unclear whether the audit will have any consequences. Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said last week that the governor’s office is not subject to certain state laws regarding government purchasing.

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However, the governor’s office criticized the audit, calling it a “waste of taxpayer resources and time” and “deeply flawed.”

Sanders himself seemed to make light of the scandal by posting a message video on X with glamor shots of the lectern. The video ends with the phrase “Come and take it,” an apparent reference to a somewhat arcane battle cry of the Second Amendment.

This article was originally published on MSNBC.com

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