Transition news comes in:
* STATE AUDITOR:
A usually reliable source says Andrea Lea, the Republican elected state auditor to succeed Charlie Daniels, has told 12 employees of the office that they will not be retained. This includes nine early appointees of Charlie Daniels, two hired this year and one long-time employee. With retirements, Lea reportedly will have 15 positions open out of 36 authorized.
* ATTORNEY GENERAL: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
has hired an insurance company lobbyist, Julie Benafield
of Hazen, to be chief of staff. Funny. I asked her about this recently and she professed surprise, saying she'd only visited the office recently to help with transition. Benafield, who has a law degree, held a variety of state posts during the Huckabee era — insurance commissioner, CEO of the Workers Compensation Commission and general counsel of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. She drew some unflattering attention in 2010
for deciding a case in favor of an insurance company shortly before she went to work for it.