Politics - News Analysis
Looks Like a Scandal Involving Sarah Huckabee Sanders Fleecing Arkansas Taxpayers is About to Blow Up
If Sarah Huckabee Sanders wasn’t already a talented grifter prior to working for Donald Trump, being his spokesperson was like a master class.
Being the daughter of a politician-slash-evangelical pastor got her more than ready to take the reins for the most corrupt President of all time. And in turn, that job polished her skills enough to land her in the Governor’s mansion in Arkansas.
But everyone eventually slips up, no matter how good they are, and it looks like #Podiumgate may be coming back to haunt her.
If you don’t remember or never heard, that’s okay. This story seems silly on the surface. We see government waste all the time, especially with Republicans. So finding out that Sarah had spent nearly 20 grand on a PODIUM to speak from behind — and that it was initially taxpayer money, until she got caught and the AR GOP paid it back for her — wasn’t that big a deal.
Now there are questions of whether she ever got the podium in the first place, or if that money went somewhere else.
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See, the thing that turned this whole debacle into something ending in -gate (podiumgate? lecterngate?) in the first place is that, conveniently, it all happened as she was trying to get a law passed making it illegal for the public to look into her spending, and to make that retroactive.
But a Republican state legislator thought that was kind of fishy too. So state Senator Jimmy Hickey called on the Legislative Audit of Arkansas — a non-partisan entity that answers to the legislative branch in the state rather than the executive — to look into a few things.
Hickey asked for “one or more audits” regarding:
“(1) the purchase of a podium or lectern from Beckett Events LLC for the use of the Governor’s Office; and
(2) all matters, involving the Governor or the Governor’s Office, made confidential by Section 4(a) of Act 7 of the First Extraordinary Session of 2023.”
Photo of the $19,029.25 lectern purchased by the Sanders administration in June. The expense was reimbursed by the Republican Party of Arkansas, according to records. #arpx #Arkansas #ARNews pic.twitter.com/mERP6QvHHP
— AR Democrat-Gazette (@ArkansasOnline) September 26, 2023
Outside groups are now saying that Sanders paid friends for a podium she never got. Moreover, they claim that the money was used to fly Sanders’ friend Hannah to Paris when Sanders went. Like a girls’ trip! YAY!
Okay, pay attention, because this gets a tiny bit complicated. Hannah Stone, one of the organizers of the January 6 riots, is business partners with Virginia Beckett, another person implicated in January 6th. The money “for the podium” was paid to Beckett, and then Stone ended up on the same European trip as Sanders, whose friends with both of them.
EXCLUSIVE PHOTO of Hannah Stone, benefactor of #podiumgate, & organizer of Trump’s Jan 6 rally/insurrection.
Stone seen here in the Capitol w/ the Huckabee fam on Sanders Inauguration Day.
— On AR Watch (@OnARWatch1) September 26, 2023
This is a case of two plus two equals four. Sanders inflated the invoice with a podium that STILL hasn’t been actually seen by anyone, panicked when she got caught spending voters’ money and tried to make it illegal to even examine what she’d spent money on or who was on her flights.
I would understand if the privacy exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act were about security — but she doesn’t want anyone knowing about past activity, either.
@jesspipermo So all of the storyline points to the fact that Arkansas voters paid for a Paris trip for a friend of Sarah’s until they were caught. And then the AR GOP stepped in and wrote a check months later for the never seen never heard from podium. ##podiumgate ♬ original sound – Jess Piper
This guy summed it up pretty well.
Sarah Sanders went on an all expense paid girls trip to Paris! Didn’t want it to show up in records, so MADE UP an imaginary $19,000 lecturn to cover cost of trip! THEN panicked, called an emergency session of the #Republican legislature to cover up the fraud!#Podiumgate https://t.co/va0jje9U4D
— Oh you, oh yeah? I support UAW STRIKE (@foolm1ns) September 26, 2023
It is clear now that the invoice was inflated to cover travel and trip expenses for @SarahHuckabee good Trump era coworkers Hannah Stone and Virginia Beckett, both implicated in Jan 6, 2020 Trump insurrection. The governor is still allied with Yrump supporters. https://t.co/wwF2ljEchB
— Sara Cain Bartlett (@saraB20452936) September 28, 2023