As anyone who has run a business knows, office supplies are vital. Pencils, paper, toner supplies, staples, we need them all. And heaven knows, we like shopping locally, so we are happy when we hear of Arkansas businesses offering products we need.
But imagine if you went looking for an office supply company, and it wasn’t there. We have encountered just that, and it is a curious mystery!
While reviewing the expense reimbursement submissions of State Senator Gene Jeffress, we noted that he obtains “legislative support services” from Cynthia’s Office Supply. You can see his monthly invoices here.
Senator Jeffress (pictured here) also obtains from them “office facilities, secretarial services, office supplies, postage, and telephone services.“ And in return, he bills the State of Arkansas for all these things Cynthia’s Office Supply is providing to him each and every month. And we, the taxpayers, pay the bill. $1,500 a month. Month in and month out. Even when the State Senate is not in session. (And we note the senate meets only about six weeks a year.) We pay Cynthia’s Office Supply $18,000 a year for Senator Jeffress’s office facilities, secretarial services, office supplies, postage, telephone services, and “legislative support services.” But—and the mystery deepens—we can’t find Cynthia’s Office Supply anywhere!
We did an Internet search for “Cynthia’s Office Supply.” Nothing. The mystery grew: No Cynthia’s Office Supply! Not one!
Logic (and our expert sleuthing) tells us Cynthia’s should be somewhere near where Senator Jeffress lives and works, as Cynthia’s is, after all, delivering (and being paid for) $18,000 a year in services to the senator. So we went to www.yellowpages.com and looked for office supply companies in his home town of Louann. We were given a list of 16 office supply companies in places from Camden, to El Dorado, and to Little Rock, but no Cynthia’s made the list.
So we got on the phone and called two local office supply companies in the Camden area, competitors of Cynthia’s. They had never heard of Cynthia’s Office Supply. How can that be? This is a serious mystery!
So we went to the Secretary of State’s website. Surely if a state senator—someone sworn to uphold the Constitution and the law—was billing $18,000 of expenses through a company, the Secretary of State would know about it. Nope. There is no Cynthia’s Office Supply registered as a business in Arkansas. This mystery won’t end!
So we were stumped. The good senator (officially listed as “Honorable” on his State of Arkansas biography) says Cynthia’s Office Supply is providing him $18,000 in goods and services each and every year. Surely the company exists. So then it hit us. We decided to look again at the invoice Cynthia’s Office Supply provides him each month, and are we glad we did!
You see, at the very top, Cynthia’s Office Supply lists its telephone number. You can see it for yourself here.
Mystery solved! Or so we thought. We’ll just call Cynthia’s!
So we called. It rang a bunch of times. (If we owned Cynthia’s Office Supply we’d get after the hired help, as we know not promptly answering the phone can lose sales!) But finally a nice male voice answered. We were surprised he answered with a simple “Hello.” (Note #2 to hired help: Always answer the phone with the business name and “How may I help you?”) We asked if this was a business. He said no. We asked if this was an office supply company, no again. We looked at our cell phone and made doubly certain we’d dialed the number on the senator’s invoices. We had. We apologized and hung up.
So we are sad to report, we never solved the mystery of the office supply company that wasn’t. How can the great State of Arkansas be spending $18,000 a year on an office supply company that doesn’t exist?
We can only say we will keep looking. And we hope you will help. And we hope Senator Jeffress and his dear wife Cynthia can help too. Because this truly is a mystery.