Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (right) is facing new questions over a $19,000 custom-made lectern her office purchased earlier this year.
The lectern in question is a custom made blue wood paneled stand which was purchased in June with a government credit card. Matt Campbell, a lawyer and blogger, first posted the bill for it on X, formerly known as Twitter, last month, sparking a political uproar over the sky-high price tag. Similar lecterns sell for much less, but the governor’s office footed the bill to an events company called Beckett Events LLC, whose founder was once a lobbyist in the Washington, D.C., area.
The drama surrounding the lectern – which comes with its own travel case – has only grew after the records were released this week show that the Arkansas Republican Party reimbursed the state for the item in mid-September. The refund came just days after Campbell filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Sanders’ travel and expense records, he said.
Sanders called the purchase an “accounting error” and her spokesman said she welcomes an audit.
“This is nothing more than a controversy orchestrated by left-wing activists to distract from the bold conservative reforms the governor has signed into law and is effectively implementing in Arkansas,” spokeswoman Alexa Henning told The New York Times.
A Anonymous whistleblower has since filed charges Sanders’ office had altered records to cover up the purchase and illegally withheld documents at Campbell’s request. Campbell posted photos this week of the bill he submitted as part of his request
An email released this week shows that Laura Hamilton, who serves as Sanders’ executive assistant, added the notation after being asked to do so on the original bill.
Last month, Sanders also called on Arkansas lawmakers to do the same amend the state’s freedom of information law Shortly afterward, she said the law was endangering her family.
“They don’t care about transparency,” the governor told those requesting government records at the time. “They want to waste taxpayer dollars, slow down our bold conservative agenda and, frankly, put my family’s life at risk.”
The legislature partially agreed to their proposal.
A state legislative panel is expected to vote on the audit later this week after a lawmaker requested it. That lawmaker, state Sen. Jimmy Hickey (R), said the latest information “further demonstrates the need for a comprehensive review to get all the facts.”