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Local & Regional News
Sun May 19, 2013
State Treasurer Martha Shoffer To Have Hearing On Extortion Charges
Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner is to go before a federal judge Monday, after being arrested over the weekend on charges of extortion.
FBI spokeswoman Kimberly Brunell says agents arrested Shoffner Saturday at her home in Newport.
The Democrat serving her second term has been under scrutiny because of how her office has handled state investments.
Legislative auditors say that in 2011, 11 bonds were sold from the state’s investment portfolio before they had matured, resulting in a net loss of more than $434,000 worth of earnings.
Arkansas Business reports that sources interviewed by the FBI said investigators focused on Shoffner’s financial dealings with bond brokers and allegations she converted political campaign funds to personal income.
State Senator Jason Rapert, a Republican from Bigelow, is among legislative leaders who have questioned Shoffner about her actions.
“Today I’m sad for the state of Arkansas. I’m embarrassed one of our elected officials has done this, but at the same time I’m happy to know that it seems justice may very well be served,” Rapert said.
“I’m the person that asked the question in the hearing, ‘Have you taken any cash from anyone that you may not have reported?’ And she said ‘no, I have not.’ I knew that was a critical question to ask and the FBI was sitting in the room, I’m told.”
Rapert acknowledged he had no direct knowledge of what ultimately led the FBI to charge Shoffner, but credits three employees in the Treasurer’s office with sharing information with him after not getting assistance elsewhere.
“These three employees went to multiple people within what they term as the leadership of their party structure or in state government and said no one would lift a finger to do anything.”
The FBI is expected to release more details on their investigation on Monday.