LITTLE ROCK — A prosecutor said Friday his office will review an audit citing state Land Commissioner Mark Wilcox’s personal use of two state-owned vehicles, but did not have a timeline on when he would decide whether to take any action over the cars.
Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley said his office has received the legislative audit of Wilcox’s office, which cited Wilcox’s use of two state vehicles on his farm. Jegley said he didn’t know if any charges would result from the audit.
“When everyone has a chance to review it, we’ll sit down and talk about it and figure out what the next step is,” Jegley said.
Wilcox, who has served two terms as land commissioner, did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Friday. Gene Osment, Wilcox’s interim chief deputy, said Wilcox was hopeful Jegley would find there was no wrongdoing by his office.
“I think Mark would welcome the prosecutor taking a look at it,” Osment said. “He’s not aware that he’s broken any laws.”
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette first reported on the audit Friday. The newspaper revealed in May that Wilcox kept a state-owned Chevrolet Silverado pickup at his farm in Greenbrier and that he used a state-owned Toyota Sequoia to commute to Little Rock.
Wilcox, who lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state earlier this year, leaves office in January. Jegley said there wasn’t a rush to review the audit before Wilcox leaves office.
The newspaper’s reporting earlier this year on Wilcox’s personal use of the cars prompted questions about state vehicle use by other elected officials and employees in the state. The Republican Party sued Wilcox and the state’s other six constitutional officers in September.
The lawsuit asks a state judge to order the officials to reimburse the state for any personal use of their vehicles and to declare such use unconstitutional. It accuses them of violating Amendment 70 of the state constitution, which prohibits lawmakers and constitutional officers from receiving income from the state beyond their salary. Hundreds of state employees gave up their take-home cars after Gov. Mike Beebe imposed new restrictions on state-owned vehicles in October.
Jegley said any decision about the audit would not be affected by the lawsuit, which is pending in Pulaski County.
The audit noted that Wilcox’s wife was involved in an accident in 2008 while driving the state-owned Silverado, and that the office initially paid $995 to repair damage to the other vehicle involved. Wilcox reimbursed the office in August.
The audit also said Wilcox’s office could not account for $4,558 in public funds. A former employee who had access to the money and the ability to alter information in the office’s database during the time the money went missing resigned last year. The Arkansas State Police and Little Rock Police were contacted about the missing money, the audit said.