LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe said Friday he has made his choice on a replacement for Martha Shoffner as state treasure and will announce his decision next week.
“We’ll announce it Wednesday,” the governor said. adding that the announcement would have come sooner but the person is out of town.
Shoffner resigned Tuesday amid federal allegations of extortion. The two-term state treasurer had been under FBI investigation for more than a year because of financial dealings in her office before agents arrested her at her home Saturday in Newport after an informant delivered a cash payment to her in a pie box.
Earlier this week, the governor said he wanted the new treasurer to be a “good manager, honest, apolitical, understand money and some of the duties.” He told reporters Friday he thinks his choice for the position has those characteristics, as well as a “reputation for integrity and good manager.”
Beebe said he visited with the state treasurer’s staff this week to try lend moral support and “told them all that I know they’ve been through a tough time and that I was there for them and that they were professionals and they needed to do their jobs and know that I’m available for them in the interim until a new treasurer is named.”
Beebe said he was “struck by the emotion in the room” during the visit.
“Several grown men had tears in their eyes, I don’t know whether it was thankfulness for someone kind of putting their arms around them or whether it was just the whole issue foaming up and causing an emotional reaction,” he said. “Several appeared very emotional.”
Shoffner faced tough scrutiny and allegations of mismanagement from lawmakers for her handling of transactions in the treasurer’s office aside from the criminal probe that ultimately led to her resignation.
The criminal complaint filed by the FBI on Monday indicated that a current employee in the treasurer’s office was working with the FBI’s investigation of Shoffner.
Shoffner, 68, is accused of taking at least $36,000 in kickbacks, delivered covertly in a pie box, for directing the bulk of bond transactions made by her office to a single broker, according to federal authorities. After a hearing in federal court Monday, she was released on her own recognizance but ordered to surrender her passport. A federal grand jury will decide whether to indict her.
She sent her resignation letter to the governor Tuesday.
Shoffner became the first state constitutional officer to resign from office under pressure since former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker stepped down in July 1996 following his conviction on federal charges in the Whitewater investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s business dealings in Arkansas.