I have several Freedom of Information requests in for the State Treasurer’s office. It could yield some interesting items.
I did hear back on a couple of them today regarding her state provided car and her schedule last Friday when she failed to show up to the Legislative Audit committee after being subpoenaed.
If you recall the history on State Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s automobile, she declared during the state autogate controversy in 2010 that she deserved her 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe just as much as Gov. Beebe deserved to be driven around by his “man-servant” (aka the state police security detail). That didn’t go over well. Reeling from the understandably bad press created by these statements, she told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in February of 2011 that she would stop using her Tahoe until the court ruled on the pending lawsuit.
Well, the court ruled and she apparently went right back to driving her Tahoe.
Her office at first said that she “does not have an assigned vehicle” and instead the office only has pooled vehicles. I pointed out that according to DFA Shoffner still has the same 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe assigned to her for “transportation owing to duties as Treasurer of State.” They then admitted that I was correct and she did actually still have this state assigned car but “not for take-home purposes.”
I asked to see any mileage logs for the Tahoe – a relatively standard practice. They don’t keep them. Some state offices do, but since they are not required to, they don’t. They did provide me with the records from Shoffner’s fuel charge cards which shows around $1,000 in fuel charges from the last year – most of the charges in April of this year. So she certainly is still putting plenty of miles on her Tahoe.
I also requested any documentation regarding her schedule last Friday, September 14. With the Legislative Audit committee issuing a subpoena and the State Police (aka “man-servants”) out looking for her, she must have had some pressing business that kept her away. She told the committee yesterday that at the “last minute” she had an “economic development” meeting come up in Jackson County that kept her from attending.
Such a pressing emergency must be well documented in her office with notes, memos, email, something – right? Nope.
My request for any documentation regarding her schedule – which specifically asked for anything regarding this economic development meeting – produced one single document. A copy from her dayplanner for Friday with a single entry at 9:00 am – when the audit committee was scheduled to begin – that said “meeting.”
That’s it. The meeting was so urgent, but it did not rise to the level of a single document – no email, no memo, no note – nothing.
UPDATE – Jon Chadwell, Executive Director of the Newport Economic Development Commission, tells me that not only did he not meet with Shoffner last Friday nor does not know anything about a meeting involving her, but also many of the people she potentially would have met with were out of town. From Chadwell…
“All I can answer about is our office, the Newport Economic Development Commission, and the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber operates a local adult leadership program, New Vision Newport, of which the Newport Economic Development Commission is a sponsor. I also serve as facilitator for the program. Both Julie Allen, Executive Director of the Chamber, and I took the new class of 20 participants to Forrest City for their opening retreat this past weekend. We left Newport at 8:00 am on Friday and returned at 2:45 pm on Saturday. So neither the NEDC nor the Chamber had an economic development meeting on Friday in Newport.”
It is time for Shoffner to explain who she was meeting with in Newport about “economic development.”