Lea Enters Race for State Auditor

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State Rep. Andrea Lea, a Republican from Russellville, entered the race for state auditor with an announcement in Fayetteville on Tuesday morning (July 2).

Lea told 5NEWS while the job doesn’t receive a lot of attention, it is important to look for efficiencies in the office and to be sure it runs effectively. The auditor serves as general accountant for the state and is the payroll officer for executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government, according to its website.

Lea said she supports expanding current programs like the Treasure Hunt returning unclaimed property to residents. She also said she has no plans to trim the 35-member staff but might allow attrition to eliminate some positions.

(Lea, center, is pictured at her announcement at the Fayetteville Veterans Home with Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, and Valerie Biendara of Washington County Republican Women.)

Republican candidate Ken Yang also is seeking the nomination in the 2014 election. Current Auditor Charlie Daniels has indicated he is not seeking re-election.

Yang generated news recently when Biendara tweeted that he told a gathering in Northwest Arkansas he might not sign state checks if he disagrees with the law. He has said he was misquoted.

Lea, 56, told 5NEWS Tuesday it is not the auditor’s job to set policy by deciding what to sign or not. The only reason she might not sign a check in a timely manner, she said, is if the state agency issuing it lacks sufficient funds to cover the amount. If that occurs, she would contact the agency so the problem could be remedied, allowing the check to be signed, she said.

“It’s not the job of the auditor’s office to decide which check to sign unless it has to do with a fund balance,” Lea said.

Lea, a former member of the Pope County Quorum Court and the Russellville City Council, is chairman of the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs.

After announcing her candidacy in Fayetteville, Lea also was set to make campaign stops Tuesday in Little Rock and Russellville.

“As the office responsible for keeping track of the fund and appropriation balances of all state agencies, the state auditor needs to be someone who has the experience working with state agencies and the people of Arkansas on a number of important issues,” Lea said in a news release.. “My experience has prepared me for this important position of trust.”