Arkansas budget director resigns after less than four months
Aaron Black has deep ties to the Huckabee family and has held a number of state government roles
Left to right: Aaron Black, budget director for Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kay Barnhill, director, Office of Personnel Management, testify before the personnel subcommittee of the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. (Screenshot)
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ budget director resigned last week, less than four months into the role.
Sanders named Aaron Black her budget director in January. He had previously been the compliance director at the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment.
Before that, Black was an aide to former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is Sanders’ father, and the director of the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Commission. He has also been a vocalist in Huckabee’s band, Capitol Offense.
Black’s final day was Friday. While state leaders determine whether to fill the position, Department of Finance and Administration Deputy Director Robert Brech will oversee the agency’s budget division, according to department spokesman Scott Hardin. Brech served as budget director during the end of former Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration.
“It has been an exciting and fast-paced last many months through the transition and the session,” Black wrote in a Friday email to DFA budget office employees. “Each of you have brought so much to the experience and provided such support for me. I wanted to tell each of [you] how much I appreciate you. Thank you for making my time enjoyable and for serving the new administration so well.
“I am resigning from my position, but I wish you all the very best as you carry forward with all the hard work and follow through on the policy changes and new initiatives recently passed.”
Black’s salary was $144,499. His resignation was first reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Tuesday.
After his resignation from the Tobacco Settlement Commission in 2011, state auditors flagged hundreds of hours in undocumented leave time Black took while head of the agency.
Auditors estimated that the leave time amounted to roughly 72 days and an estimated cost of $19,576.
Black told auditors at the time that only 170 of those hours should have been reported as leave. The audit was referred to prosecutors, but no charges were ever filed.
Attempts to reach Black on Tuesday weren’t successful.
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