Prosecutor: ‘insufficient proof of criminal conduct’ in governor’s lectern controversy

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 385 views 

Pulaski County Prosecutor Will Jones declared Friday (June 7) that he would not prosecute any charges related to a legislative audit of Gov. Sarah Sanders’ purchase of a $19,000 lectern and carry case.

Citing “insufficient proof of criminal conduct,” Jones said his review of the referral from the Arkansas Legislative Audit (ALA) released in April showed no proof of criminal violations of Arkansas law.

“[W]e find that there is insufficient proof of criminal conduct contained in ALA Report SP050123, A Special Report-Arkansas Governor’s Office- Review of Selected Transactions and Procurements or any of the supporting documents. Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct state that a prosecutor in a criminal case shall ‘refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.’ Therefore, no further action will be taken,” Jones said in a letter released to the media.

The Arkansas Legislative Audit (ALA) bureau researched for months the controversial transaction made by Gov. Sanders’ office. ALA outlined the breakdown of the expenses that totaled $19,029. They included:

$11,575 for the podium;
$2,500 for a consulting fee;
$2,200 for the road case;
$1,225 for shipping and delivery of the lectern;
$975 for freight shipping of the road case;
$554 for a 3% credit card processing fee.

A major issue of contention between ALA and the Governor’s office centered on whether or not the governor – and other constitutional officers – had to follow certain procurement and disposal of asset rules. After Blue Hog Report blogger Matt Campbell reported last year that Sanders’ office had purchased the high-dollar lectern, the governor’s office was reimbursed by the Republican Party of Arkansas for the transaction. ALA contended that Sanders’ office should have disposed of the lectern that they originally purchased with public funds through the maintenance and reconditioning process of the state.

Jones noted the law was unclear on whether the governor’s office had to follow that process.

“Arkansas law is not clear as to whether the provisions of the GABPL [General Accounting and Budgetary Procedures Law] at issue apply to constitutional officers. Given the conflict between the interpretation of the GABPL by the ALA, the Arkansas Governor’s Office (AGO), and Op. Ark. Att’y Gen. No. 56 (2024), it is apparent that there is ambiguity in the law,” Jones said. “Given the multiple interpretations of the GABPL and the ambiguity over whether it applies to the AGO, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the statute was knowingly violated.”

“The review issued today confirms what the governor’s office said all along: we followed the law, reimbursed the state with private funds, and this was nothing more than a ridiculous controversy manufactured by the far left,” said Gov. Sanders’ spokesperson Alexa Henning.

You can read the prosecutor’s full letter here.