UPDATE: Gov. Mike Beebe
met with reporters this morning and echoed an earlier statement from Democratic Party Chair Vincent Insalaco
that Lt. Gov. Mark Darr
should resign over his admission that he violated 11 ethics laws and agreed to pay an $11,000 fine for some $44,000 in misspending. A prosecutor is also reviewing Legislative Audit findings that Darr illegally spent $12,000 in taxpayer money on improper personal expenses.
Beebe told reporters that he'd call Darr to ask if he'd resign. He said no. According to KATV's account, Beebe's response to Darr's answer: "That's disappointing.":
Beebe, of course, has no power to make Darr do anything. But he enjoys broad popularity in the state. His forceful entry into the matter on the eve of an important political year should prompt Republicans to rethink their so-far tepid response to the Darr scandal.
Beebe's comments followed this earlier news release from Arkansas Democratic Party:
Monday’s Ethics Commission meeting confirmed there was probable cause that Mark Darr broke 11 state campaign and ethics rules. Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Vincent Insalaco made the following statement:
“The Ethics Commission report confirmed what the Legislative Audit showed- that Mark Darr has a disregard for the law. He has misused more taxpayer and campaign funds than the majority of Arkansans make in a year.
“Darr’s reassurance that he won’t have the same problems in the future is too little, too late. Our elected officials must
be held accountable and Mark Darr’s record of irresponsibility is entrenched. Arkansans deserve better. Mark Darr should resign immediately.”
Beebe said it would be in everyone's best interest, including Darr, for him to resign. He cited other precedents.
Here's the thing.though. It's really better for Democrats if Darr does NOT resign. Democratic officeholders who were caught in misdeeds (Shoffner, Hallum) resigned promptly after public urging from other high-ranking Democrats and faced prosecutors. Republican silence continues on their lawbreaker and public money pilferer.
In the face of that and Darr's continued hold on office after proven rampant abuse of public and campaign money, you'd have to be blithering world-class hypocrites to campaign as ethically superior to Democrats. (Particularly when you consider the record being amassed by Secretary of State Mark Martin
and his posse.)
Oh, wait ....
It will be a proud day for the Republican Party when a confessed serial law violator presides over the Republican-majority Arkansas Senate next year.
Particularly interesting in silence on Darr's transgressions are Reps. Charlie Collins
and Andy Mayberry
, Republican candidates for lieutenant governor next year. Mayberry has even tended to downplay Darr's violations. If Darr were to resign, Beebe could call a special election (depending on timing, it might be possible to leave it vacant) for someone to complete the term. Sitting legislators couldn't run for the unexpired term, however. But John Burkhalter, the Democratic candidate, could run. And thus stand a chance of holding the office title on the general election ballot in 2014. When Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller died in July of an election year, both parties agreed to leave the position unfilled. Rockefeller had planned to run for governor that year, but dropped out because the cancer that would eventually take his life. Ernie Dumas wrote at that time
about the wisdom of that decision and the need to abolish the office outright.
Asa? Doyle? Any elephant? Is the Republican fallback really going to be it's no big deal if you can argue a potential crime wasn't for personal financial gain? (Though even that's untrue in Darr's case, as Blue Hog Report has amply demonstrated
Love this from David Goins at arkansasmatters.com
Darr told KARK Tuesday he plans to complete his term that ends in January 2015.
"The mistakes I made have been well documented," Darr says "My focus now is on making things right with the people of Arkansas."
Darr will make things right by continuing to take taxpayers' money for a do-nothing job. And, if he follows through on an earlier vow, he'll make the State Police
chauffeur him around to get around limits on his use of public money for commuting.
Yes, please, Mr. Darr. Don't resign.