LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas secretary of state’s trip to Ghana on a U.S. Department of Agriculture trade mission is under scrutiny from an audit.
Deputy Legislative Auditor Jon Moore told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2rdbFgE ) on Thursday that Mark Martin’s trip in November 2015 to expand export opportunities might not have been within the scope of his office’s duties.
According to Moore, the Arkansas constitution says the secretary’s duties include overseeing election laws, registering businesses and keeping up the state Capitol grounds. Moore said the nearly $8,400 trip doesn’t appear to be a part of those responsibilities.
Management in Martin’s office said they believe the state’s legislative branch was incorrectly interfering with how a constitutional officer travels on behalf of the state.
“Our only disagreement (with legislative auditors) was whether or not Secretary Martin should have taken the trip,” said Kelly Boyd, chief deputy secretary of state. “We feel that is a decision best made by Secretary Martin and we stand by the comments we made.”
Arkansas Legislative Audit legal counsel Frank Arey said the audit has reported findings for other constitutional officers in the past, so there is no legitimate question about whether the audit is a valid exercise of legislative oversight.
Martin hasn’t taken an agriculture-related trip overseas paid by the state since Ghana, said Chris Powell, a spokesman for the secretary of state.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com