Apr 17, 2024 - News

What to know about the "podiumgate" audit involving Sarah Huckabee Sanders

photo of sarah huckabee sanders

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Arkansas Legislative Audit this week wrapped up its investigation into the purchase of a $19,000 podium by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' administration.

What they found: The audit report reveals the governor's office may have broken state law in several instances, including:

  • Applying the purchase to operating expenses when it didn't meet criteria.
  • Not notifying the Department of Transformation and Shared Services, therefore preventing the purchase from being properly recorded.
  • Not seeking an exemption from the state procurement director for disposal of state property.
  • Shredding the bill of lading.
  • Altering a public record. Auditors found three versions of an invoice, two of which contained a handwritten notation made after the record was entered into the Arkansas Administrative Statewide Information System.

Transformation and Shared Services also may have violated state law by excluding multiple invoices paid for with the governor's office credit card.

The intrigue: Days before the release of the report, state Attorney General Tim Griffin said the governor is not subject to two state laws, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

  • One is the General Accounting and Budgetary Procedures Law, which requires all state agencies to provide adequate accounting for all fiscal transactions. Griffin said Sanders is not considered a state agency.
  • The other law states that tax-supported institutions like state agencies are allowed to use the services of the Arkansas State Surplus, which oversees the redistribution and sale of state surplus property between state agencies, tax-supported entities, not-for-profit groups and to the public. Griffin said the law does not specifically say constitutional officers are subject to it.

What they're saying: Sanders on Monday posted a gimmicky video on X of the podium ending with "Come and take it."

By the numbers: The total cost was $19,029 including $11,575 for the podium itself, plus a $2,500 consulting fee, $2,200 for a road case, $1,225 for shipping and delivery, $975 for shipping of the road case and $554 for a credit card processing fee, according to the audit report.

The latest: Lawmakers questioned the governor's staff during a nearly three-hour hearing Tuesday.

What's next: The report has been sent to Griffin's office and Pulaski County's prosecuting attorney, the Arkansas Advocate reported.


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