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VOL. 128 | NO. 105 | Thursday, May 30, 2013

Former Audit Chief Named Arkansas Treasurer

ANDREW DeMILLO | Associated Press

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former Legislative Auditor Charles Robinson will replace the Arkansas state treasurer who resigned last week over charges she accepted cash payments for steering business to an investment banker, Gov. Mike Beebe announced Wednesday.

Beebe named Robinson as his pick to serve the remaining 19 months of ex-Treasurer Martha Shoffner's term. Shoffner stepped down after she was arrested by the FBI and accused of accepting more than $36,000 in cash payments from a bond broker.

Robinson, 66, worked for 34 years in the Division of Legislative Audit, serving 28 years as the chief of that division before retiring in 2007.

"He was the perfect fit for somebody who had managerial experience, somebody who had the ability to immediately gather trust based upon previous work experience and had a reputation for integrity," Beebe said during a news conference at the state Capitol.

Robinson said the governor, "has convinced me to do something that I said I would never do, and that is to go back to work again."

Robinson, who said he was on his way to a hunting trip in Wyoming when Beebe offered him the job, said he'd prefer to forgo the position's $54,305 salary. The governor said the Department of Finance and Administration was researching whether it was legally possible to give up the state salary for the position.

Robinson will serve as treasurer until January 2015, but he is barred from running for the post next year because of a constitutional restriction for appointees to elected positions. Shoffner, a Democrat, was re-elected in 2010.

Robinson offered few clues on what changes he would make to the office or its investments and said he first wanted to meet with the staff.

"What has happened has happened," Robinson said. "What I expect to do is to go from this point forward and work with the people of the treasurer's office and officials at the state and local level, financial officials and I just want the treasurer's office of the state to be what everyone expects it to be."

Shoffner was charged with attempt and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right through the Hobbs Act, a federal law often used to prosecute public officials for accepting bribes. Her attorney has said she plans to plead not guilty at the appropriate time.

The FBI arrested Shoffner at her Newport home after she was recorded accepting $6,000 in a pie box from a bond broker, according to an affidavit filed last week. If convicted, Shoffner faces up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

The office that Robinson once headed raised questions about Shoffner's investment practices last year, when legislative auditors said her decision to sell bonds before they matured cost the state more than $400,000 in potential earnings.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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