MAIL-ORDER HIDE: The lectern doesn’t get used for lectern stuff, but it looks spiffy in private look-but-don’t-touch photo shoots by the governor’s office.

Andrew DeMillo of the AP breaks the news that the long-awaited audit of a $19,000 lectern purchased for Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is slated to be released to the public within the next 10 days.

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Sen. Jimmy Hickey (R-Texarkana) requested the audit last September, following heavy media coverage of the governor’s alleged purchase of the pricey lectern from Virginia Beckett. Beckett, a friend of Sanders, was a paid consultant on the governor’s 2022 campaign. (Her company, Beckett Eventsdoes not produce or sell lecterns .) The audit committee authorized the audit on Oct. 13.

Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragrould) told the AP that he received the audit report on Friday afternoon, along with Sen. David Wallace, his co-chair on the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee.

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Gazaway made no comment on the contents and said no decision had been made on whether there would be a legislative hearing on the report. But he said that he expects it will be made available to the public within the next 10 days.

Gazaway said:

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As the chairs of the committee, we felt like it was important to review it before it’s released. I think we have an obligation to ensure it’s in good form and good order, and that’s what we’re doing.

The Arkansas-Democrat Gazette reported Sunday that Republican legislative leaders said they expected the audit report to be released at some point during the legislative fiscal session, which begins Wednesday.

The timing is interesting: The much-anticipated report could have been held until the committee’s next scheduled meeting, which is not until June. Instead, it will be released smack dab in the middle of the session.

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