The Arkansas Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' appointment of an aide in the governor's office, Leslie Fisken, as secretary of the state Department of Transformation and Shared Services.
The Republican governor announced her appointment of Fisken, who has served as director of cabinet affairs for Sanders, on Sept. 5 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Joseph Wood to serve as chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas.
Fisken previously served as the chief of legislative affairs for the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism in Gov. Asa Hutchinson's administration and as an education policy adviser to Hutchinson. She also worked in governmental relations at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Fisken's salary as secretary of the Department of Transformation and Shared Services is $167,000 a year, Sanders spokeswoman Alexa Henning said Thursday. Fisken's salary in the governor's office was $125,985 a year, according to the Arkansas Transparency website. The website shows Wood's salary as secretary of the department had been $172,000 a year.
The Senate voted Thursday to confirm the appointment of Fisken one day after the Senate voted to confirm 25 of Sanders' appointments to state executive branch posts, state boards and state commissions.
The appointments confirmed Wednesday included state Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Jim Hudson, state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Shea Lewis, and state Department of Health Secretary Renee Mallory.
On Aug. 7, Sanders announced her appointment of Hudson, the then-state Department of Commerce chief of staff, as the secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration. Hudson filled the vacancy created when Sanders appointed Larry Walther as state treasurer to fill the vacancy created in the state treasurer's office by the July 26 death of Mark Lowery.
On Aug. 8, the governor announced her appointment of Mallory, who had served as interim secretary of the Department of Health since May of 2022, as the secretary of the department.
On Aug. 11, Sanders announced her appointment of Lewis, then-interim secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, to serve as the department secretary. Lewis was appointed interim secretary in June by Sanders after Mike Mills, the former secretary of the department, departed the administration after about five months in the post.
State government's executive branch has 15 departments that were formed under Hutchinson's reorganization of state government that became effective in July 2019. The reorganization melded 42 state agencies into 15 executive branch departments and represented the most sweeping overhaul of state government since 1971, when then-Democratic Gov. Dale Bumpers led an initiative to meld 60 agencies into 13 departments under Act 38 of that year.