Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ convoluted narrative about her nearly $20,000 custom-made podium is falling apart with each document that’s released.

The Associated Press recently received dozens of records under a Freedom of Information Act request related to the very expensive lectern. While the Arkansas GOP eventually paid for the podium in mid-September, the words “to be reimbursed” were only later added to the original invoice.

Sanders’ office used state funds to buy the lectern.

Republican State Senator Jim Hickey requested an audit of the curious purchase, and told the AP the new revelations “further indicate the need for a full blown audit to get all the facts.”

Laura Hamilton, executive assistant and office manager for Sanders, added the note about the state needing to be reimbursed. In an email, Department of Transformation and Shared Services employee Cassie Cantlon said Hamilton was instructed to not date her notice.

Why could that possibly be?!

“I asked if she wanted to date the note and she stated that she was told not to date it, but to just make the note that the invoice was to be reimbursed,” the email reads.

Sanders’ office continues to call #podiumgate “nothing more than a manufactured controversy,” but the gay-gating governor’s actions speak otherwise.

The whole scandal unraveled when Sanders called a special session to overhaul the state’s public records laws in response to a lawsuit from political blogger Matt Campbell, who claims the Arkansas State Police illegally withheld documents related to Sanders’ travel and security.

The special session generated backlash from Democrats, government transparency groups and even some Republicans. Sanders signed legislation limiting public access to her travel and security records.

Adding to the scandal, Arkansas purchased the $19,029.25 podium just in time for Sanders’ taxpayer-funded trip to Europe this summer. A company called Beckett Events LLC billed Arkansas for the lectern.

That detail is important, because 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 in France last summer.

That uncanny coincidence has fueled speculation the nearly $20,000 was meant for a European vacay, rather than a podium. Despite being purchased in June, the lectern wasn’t actually delivered until August.

And it looks, well, pretty basic. Just your average podium.

“You can get the same thing online for a few thousand dollars, so the huge price tag Beckett Events LLC charged the state of Arkansas remains a mystery,” writes the Arkansas Times.

An attorney, Tom Mars, says he has a client willing to provide a confidential statement to lawmakers who possesses firsthand knowledge of Sanders’ office interfering with open records requests.

There seems to be quite the cover-up here, huh?

As governor, Sanders has many real problems to deal with. This week, for example, almost half of the state’s residents lost their Medicare coverage.

Overall, Arkansas is the fourth poorest state in the nation, with a mounting affordable housing crisis and massive food insecurity. A recent Scholaroo survey found the state ranks 49th in the nation for quality of life and 50th in the nation for quality of health.

And yet, Sanders is busy passing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation (the state has its own “Don’t Say Gay” law) and covering up her dubious purchases.

The people of Arkansas must be so grateful to have a governor who’s working for them, and not solely preoccupied with her own interests.

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