LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Tension arose for a moment after Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about a podium at a news conference Tuesday morning.
The governor was speaking at a conference called to announce the state taking action against Chinese government ownership of a seed company in Craighead County. Two questions came at the end of the conference about a podium purchase that had been a talking point for several weeks that ultimately generated a tense response.
The governor fielded a few questions about the actions against the seed company, then was asked about the podium, its features and reimbursement, details that have been at the center of the controversy.
“[The purchase] went through [the] standard protocol for our office on any purchase through the office manager and any team that was requesting the purchase to be made,” the governor said.
She continued, speaking to the features: “In terms of specific features, the height of the podium is specific, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but women are traditionally a little bit shorter than most of our male counterparts, and uh, so that makes a little bit of a difference, but it also incorporates sound components that make it easier to plug in for multiple media outlets at one time to get the best sound quality, I guess, for relaying back to TV and purposes of that nature, and a number of other things I’ll let come through in the audit process.”
The second question was why the governor was not using the podium during the conference.
She took the press to task for asking the question.
“Yeah, because I figure if you do, you would talk about nothing else than the important actions that we’re actually taking today,” the governor said. “Which, unfortunately, is not surprising, that while we are focused on things that actually impact our state and impact Arkansans the media wants to spend all of their time on things that frankly don’t. Any other questions?”
There were no other questions and the conference ended.
Last Friday, a legislative committee approved a legislative audit of the podium purchase and of documents recently made confidential by changes to the state’s Freedom of Information Act law. The committee requested the purchase audit be expedited.