LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Rogers attorney has offered potentially explosive evidence after an Arkansas senator has asked for a legislative audit of the governor’s office.
Attorney Tom Mars sent a letter to Sen. Jimmy Hickey Jr. (R-Texarkana) on Friday following a request from the long-time senator for a legislative audit of the Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ office expense related to the June purchase of a podium.
Hickey has also asked for a review of the governor’s office records made confidential by recent changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
Mars’ letter offers a witness who can attest to FOIA records that were knowingly altered or withheld by the governor’s office related to the podium purchase after they were requested by Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell.
The testimony will be given confidentially, as the whistleblower wishes to remain anonymous, Mars stated in the letter. The person’s testimony would include documents substantiating the claim altering or withholding records.
Mars appears to implicate the governor’s communication director Alexa Henning.
“These documents will substantiate my client’s firsthand knowledge of how certain persons in the Governor’s Office, including the Governor’s Communications Director, interfered with the production of non-exempt FOIA documents TSS [Arkansas Department of Transformation and Shared Services] intended to produce to attorney Matt Campbell,” the letter states, followed by a list detailing four items.
- Altering of documents to change their meaning and not provide the non-altered document to Campbell.
- Withholding other documents, including those that show purchases Sanders made on Amazon.
- Removing portions of email threads.
- By the governor’s office “sanitizing” a flash drive “all for the purpose of concealing that the Governor’s Office had altered an invoice from Beckett Events LLC and deliberately omitted from the production of responsive documents a number of documents that were not even arguably exempt from the FOIA or subject to any legal privilege.”
Mars continues, stating that if this conduct occurred “it would appear to constitute a knowing violation” of Arkansas laws, including altering public records.
Multiple state sources have reported the podium as a $19,029.25 expense, including credit card charges. The governor’s office reportedly purchased the podium, referred to by some as a lectern, in June.
Henning said on social media that the governor “welcomes the audit and encourages legislators to complete it without delay.”
Mars had been the state police director for then-Gov. Mike Huckabee for nearly three years, beginning in 1998.