Skip to main content
Tags: sarah huckabee sanders | lectern | audit | arkansas | controversy | purchases | lectern

$19K Lectern for Gov. Sanders Leads to Arkansas Probe

By    |   Friday, 13 October 2023 07:51 AM EDT

A Republican legislative panel in Arkansas will be reviewing an audit of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' purchases, with a $19,000 lectern for the governor being at the center of the state controversy.

Republicans in the state's government on Thursday approved the audit after open-records requests from a blogger led to claims that the state had been altering public documents, along with questions about the timing of the state Republican Party's reimbursement to Sanders office for the purchase, reports The Washington Post.

The legislative panel will audit the lectern purchase and the methods Sanders' office uses to handle open records requests.

Committee co-Chair Jimmy Gazaway, a Republican, said the audits are expected to start Friday and wrap up by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the governor told The Post in a statement that her office is welcoming the audit while calling the matter "nothing more than a manufactured controversy by left-wing activists to distract from the bold conservative reforms the legislature has passed and the governor has signed into law and is effectively implementing in Arkansas."

The controversy began in June after Arkansas blogger and attorney Matthew Campbell requested public records about Sanders's security and travel expenses.

Campbell told The Post that he got some of the records, but most of the requests were denied, with the governor's office stating that the documents were confidential and could include sensitive documents that would endanger Sanders' security.

On Sept. 6, Campbell filed a lawsuit on claims that the state's Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, had been violated.

Two days after he filed his suit, Sanders called a legislative session to address not only tax cuts but updates to the state's FOIA laws under claims that new restrictions to the regulations were needed to protect her and her family.

Opponents, including several Republicans, cried foul, calling her move an "assault on our republic."

On Sept. 11, Campbell posted copies of the documents he had received on social media site X including a record for a $19,029.25 payment made to Beckett Events LLC, a Virginia-based events company that was founded by a Republican political consultant and lobbyist.

He said that item led him to file more records requests, which ended up showing that the payment had been made for Sanders' lectern.

When asked about the price of the lectern last month, Sanders said it came equipped with a "number of features" and told reporters that she is "happy to connect you with the vendor that builds and puts these together, but it's not really my area of specialty. I'm focused on things I'm good at. Building podiums is probably not one of them."

Other records obtained by Campbell show that Sanders' office emailed the Arkansas Department of Transformation and Shared Services (TSS) on May 11 to ask about prepaying for a "custom podium order" worth "around 10K" by June 30, the end of the fiscal year. The agency, though, responded that it couldn't pay until the lectern arrived.

Beckett Events issued an invoice on June 8 for an $18,475 "custom falcon podium," along with a $554.25 credit card fee, according to the records. The charge, totaling $19,029.25, was paid on June 12 with the use of a government credit card, and a copy of a check shows the state Republican Party repaid the state for the full amount on Sept. 14.

Campbell said he got a copy of the June invoice the next day that included a handwritten note saying that it was "to be reimbursed."

Alexa Henning, Sanders' communications director, told The Post that the money has been reimbursed "with private funding the governor raised for her inauguration."

But newly released public records show that the note was added to the invoice three months after it was bought, and after Campbell requested the records.

According to an email sent on Sept. 15 from a TSS employee, an unidentified staffer in Sanders's office said she was told to add the note to the invoice one day before.

A former state agency employee, acting as a whistleblower, came forward in September alleging that the governor's office altered public records. According to state law, tampering with public records is a felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

A Republican legislative panel in Arkansas will be reviewing an audit of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' purchases, with a $19,000 lectern for the governor being at the center of the state controversy.
sarah huckabee sanders, lectern, audit, arkansas, controversy, purchases, lectern
Friday, 13 October 2023 07:51 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Sign up for Newsmax’s Daily Newsletter

Receive breaking news and original analysis - sent right to your inbox.

(Optional for Local News)
Privacy: We never share your email address.
Join the Newsmax Community
Read and Post Comments
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.

Interest-Based Advertising | Do not sell or share my personal information

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Download the NewsmaxTV App
Get the NewsmaxTV App for iOS Get the NewsmaxTV App for Android Scan QR code to get the NewsmaxTV App
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved