Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The audit into Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ extravagant podium purchase is complete and the findings aren’t good for the Arkansas governor.

And to counteract claims that she potentially violated state laws, the political nepo baby posted… a 20-second video goading her critics to “come and take” the $19,029.25 lectern.

Legislative auditors completed Monday their long-awaited inquiry into the podium purchase, confirming a myriad of suspicious activity. They found the governor’s office mishandled the buying process and destroyed a document that should’ve been saved.

Arkansas lawmakers, including Republicans, approved the audit last fall after it was revealed Sanders’ office paid nearly $20,000 for a regular old podium. The grift was uncovered following the release of public records.

The documents, which were obtained thanks to a local blogger’s public records request, show the lectern in question was purchased in June 2023 using a state-issued credit card. The Republican Party of Arkansas eventually reimbursed the state, but waited until September to cut the $19,029.25 check.

Curiously, the state GOP didn’t cover the cost until after the FOIA request was filed.

Adding to the mystery, Sanders’ office acquired the podium from Beckett Events L.L.C., an event management company with ties to the governor. Beckett Events’ founder, Victoria Beckett, is one of Sanders’ longtime advisors.

Social media posts show Beckett and her business partner, Hannah Stone, overlapped with Sanders during a trip to France last summer. The uncanny coincidence fueled speculation the nearly $20,000 was meant for a European vacay, rather than a podium. 

Even though the podium was purchased in June, it wasn’t delivered until August. As stated previously, it looks like… a regular old podium!

The story picked up additional steam last September, when an anonymous whistleblower claimed Sanders’ office altered documents related to the podium. The words “to be reimbursed” were only later added to the original invoice.

All of the aforementioned actions are detailed in the audit, as well as additional sketchy behavior. Last March, one of Sanders’ aides contacted an Arkansas-based equipment dealer, and received a quote for portable podiums ranging from $800 to $1,500. A separate vendor told the governor’s office that a “falcon style podium” would cost between $10,000 and $15,000.

The report suggests that Sanders unnecessarily paid almost $20,000 for an item that could’ve been secured for far less money. (Gee, ya think?!)

“It should be noted that similar non-customized falcon style podiums can be purchased from online vendors starting at approximately $7,000, as opposed to the $11,575 amount allocated to the custom falcon podium,” the report reads.

In addition, auditors found that before records related to the podium were requested, the governor’s office didn’t provide any indication it was “seeking reimbursement for the cost of the podium and road case.”

It should also be mentioned that Sanders called an emergency session of the legislature around this time to weaken public records laws.

The auditors said they’re forwarding the report to the state’s attorney general, Tim Griffin, who seems poised to cover up any of Sanders’ potential misdeeds. Last week, Griffin found that Arkansas laws on accounting and budgetary procedures apply only to state agencies, not constitutional offices.

Interesting timing, right???

A spokeswoman for Sanders denies any wrongdoing. “We followed the law, and the state was fully reimbursed with private funds for the podium, at no cost to the taxpayers,” said Alexa Henning, via the New York Times.

Rather than issue her own public statement, Sanders resorted to posting a juvenile video on social media, set to a customized version of the Jay-Z hit, “Public Service Announcement.”

The antigay governor’s constituents weren’t impressed.

Since taking office in January 2023, Sanders has accomplished two things: attacking Arkansas’ LGBTQ+ community, and involving herself in scandals. She’s championed Arkansas’ own version of “Don’t Say Gay,” banned gender-affirming care for minors, barred teachers from using students’ preferred pronouns and limited drag performances.

On the scandal front, Sanders took her family on a lavish trip to the Super Bowl, despite earning $158,749 annually… far below what someone would need to treat their family to a VIP experience at the biggest sporting event in the country.

Last September, right when Podiumgate was beginning to unravel, Sanders billed her taxpaying constituents $13,000 for a college football kickoff party.

Meanwhile, Arkansas continues to struggle. It has third highest infant mortality rate in the country, and is one of only three states that doesn’t offer postpartum Medicaid coverage for a full year. Some of Arkansas’ 75 counties lack hospitals entirely, while only 35 hospitals in the state offer labor and delivery units.

Talk about a pro-life agenda! According to the Human Rights Campaign, Arkansas is one of 23 states with the lowest designation of “high priority to achieve basic equality.” The state doesn’t have a hate-crime law, nor does it prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing or employment.

Amidst all of these problems, Sanders did declare a state of emergency last week… for the eclipse. That’s almost as silly as buying a $19,029.25 podium!

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