|Updated: 9/19/2012 4:36 pm
||Published: 9/19/2012 3:29 pm
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Treasurer Martha Shoffner said Wednesday she wants to correct problems identified by legislative auditors who questioned her office's investment practices, and said she won't step down.
Two days after a legislative panel voted to expand its review of her office's bond investments, Shoffner said she wanted to work with legislative auditors and try to correct the problems.
An audit released last week found that Shoffner's office last year sold 11 bonds from its investment portfolio before they had matured and purchased similar bonds from the same brokers, resulting in a net loss of more than $58,000.
"I know the buck stops with me and I'm going to have to take responsibility and I want to take responsibility," Shoffner told The Associated Press in an interview. "I just don't want this to happen again in the future."
Shoffner said she was trying to maximize profits for the state when she sold the bonds early, and again denied a claim by her chief investment officer that Shoffner was advised against doing so. When asked whether she believed the early sales were a bad decision, Shoffner replied: "In retrospect, after this, yes. But I want to correct it."
Shoffner also denied that she was trying to evade questions when she didn't appear before a legislative committee last week to discuss the report. Shoffner, who testified Monday after being subpoenaed, would only say in Wednesday's interview that she was in Jackson County for a meeting related to an economic development project.
"I just thought it was a standard meeting," she said. "Usually agency heads let their senior people go."
Shoffner, a second-term Democrat, has faced bipartisan criticism for the lack of details she's provided on why her office sold the bonds early. The audit committee voted Monday to expand its review of her investment practices to the past four years to see if there were any similar sales.
The panel is expected to meet as soon as October to continue reviewing her investment practices. Shoffner said she planned to work with auditors during their review.
"We're here to work for the people of Arkansas," Shoffner said. "We're the safekeepers of the money and, as I said, that's my responsibility. I certainly want to work with audit in whatever avenue they want to follow."
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