LITTLE ROCK — Members of a legislative committee that heard sworn testimony from state Treasurer Martha Shoffner about suspect transactions in her office will re-examine her responses for possible instances of perjury, a co-chairman of the panel said Thursday.
Shoffner resigned from office last month following her arrest by the FBI and was indicted Wednesday on 14 federal extortion and bribery counts. She is accused of accepting cash payments in exchange for steering state bond business in her office to a single broker. Authorities allege she accepted more than $36,000 in cash payments.
Last fall, members of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee subpoenaed Shoffner and grilled her under oath about a state audit that raised questions about how she handled her office, including the sale of bonds before they matured, which cost the state more than $434,000. Shoffner and several members of her staff testified before the committee for nearly three hours.
The audit report was turned over to the Pulaski County prosecutor, who did not pursue an investigation. Gov. Mike Beebe last week appointed Charles Robinson, former director of the state Division of Legislative Audit, to fill the remainder of Shoffner’s term as treasurer, through 2014.
On Thursday, state Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, co-chairman of the audit panel, said a transcript of Shoffner’s testimony is being made available to committee members in the wake of the ex-treasurer’s indictment. At some point, members may want to discuss whether Shoffner or others may have lied to the panel, he said.
"We had several hours of testimony with the audit," King said during a meeting of the audit panel’s executive committee. "There are several questions about the role of audit (committee) moving forward with the investigation, and is it possible, through the testimony, was there anybody who perjured themselves, was there wrong testimony. There are just some questions."
The full audit committee is scheduled to meet Friday at the state Capitol.
King said the panel would hear from a former state employee who recently won a whistle-blower case against the state.
Bob Means, a psychologist who was employed at the state Department of Career Education’s Rehabilitation Services Division, had argued in his lawsuit that he was fired in 2008 after he filed a report with the U.S. Office of Inspector General about alleged misuse of funds in the agency.
The state Supreme Court in April upheld a circuit court ruling that awarded Means more than $10,000 in lost wages.
King said he and other committee members have had questions about the Arkansas Whistle-blower Act since Shoffner and Autumn Sanson, her chief investment officer, gave conflicting testimony last fall and Sanson asked the committee whether she would be protected as a whistle blower.
Shoffner testified that no one on her staff had questioned why bonds were sold before they matured. Sanson, sitting next her-then boss, testified she had questioned the practice.
"Right in the middle of the hearing … an employee wanted to know and be informed about the whistle-blower (act), so I think it would be valuable information to know," King said Thursday. "Some of us don’t know much about that act. We want to talk to someone who went through that experience."