In a voice vote, the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee has given the green light for Arkansas Legislative Audit to conduct an expedited review of the governor’s office’s purchase of a lectern from Beckett Events LLC, costing approximately $19,000. This decision comes after concerns raised by state Senator Jimmy Hickey, who requested an investigation due to public queries about the purchase.
Blogger Matt Campbell of the Blue Hog Report initially reported the purchase, which was made evident by a payment receipt dated June 12, with a total of $19,029.25 made to Beckett Events LLC, and an invoice from June 8, totaling $18,475, describing the item as a “podium,” although it is correctly identified as a “lectern.”
To address these concerns, the Republican Party of Arkansas’ Special Project Account 1 reimbursed the state for the lectern’s cost on September 14. Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders used private inaugural funds for this reimbursement.
In addition to reviewing the lectern purchase, the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee approved an executive subcommittee’s recommendation to review all expenditures involving the governor or the governor’s office that are made confidential by Section 4 (a) of Act 7 of the First Extraordinary Session of 2023. This section expanded the exemptions under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, protecting information related to security services provided to the governor and her family.
The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee has also granted Arkansas Legislative Audit the authority to develop procedures for reporting findings during their review of confidential expenditures. These procedures will be reviewed and approved at the next executive committee meeting on November 8.
This decision to expedite the review is essential to address concerns surrounding the purchase of the lectern and related confidential expenditures, ensuring transparency and accountability in government actions. Governor Sanders has welcomed the audit, emphasizing its importance in clarifying the situation.
Critics argue that these actions were necessary to address public concerns and provide a clear understanding of the situation. The review aims to ensure that there are no inconsistencies in these transactions and to maintain public trust in government operations.
The audit will likely provide valuable insights into the lectern purchase and related expenses. However, the exact completion date of the audit remains uncertain, emphasizing the importance of accuracy over speed in this process.
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