Friday, January 3, 2014

Make way for Gov. Mark Darr

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 7:17 AM

NO PRISONER: Gov. Beebe intends to go to bowl game even if it means Mark Darr becomes governor.
  • NO PRISONER: Gov. Beebe intends to go to bowl game even if it means Mark Darr becomes governor.

Most interesting news of the day was tucked down toward the end of developments in the Democrat-Gazette's account of the saga of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and the question of whether he'll resign from office on account of misspending of taxpayer and campaign money.

Gov. Mike Beebe said he would not be held a prisoner in the state.. He's going to Mobile Saturday and Sunday to watch his alma mater, Arkansas State University,  play in a bowl game

Unless he resigns before then, that would make Mark Darr the acting governor. There's no pending legislation to sign or veto, but a range of executive actions would be available to him, including, yes, clemency powers. Remember Jerry Jewell? More practically, maybe he could appoint himself to something, perhaps a paying gig somewhere in state government.

Darr also could call on the State Police to saddle up and drive him to the GoDaddy Bowl. (Recent events suggest he doesn't have the ready cash to buy a plane ticket and presumably he's somewhat chastened now about using the taxpayers' credit card for such.)

In that case, Sen. Michael Lamoureux, the Senate president pro ten, would be next in line.

I hope the rumors I've heard about efforts to assemble a love offering for Darr to encourage him on his way to private life turn out to be unfounded. Offering money for an official action, even if it be resignation, would seem an ill-considered idea at this particular juncture. It will be hard, too, for Darr to seek a deal by which any prosecutorial review is dropped in return for his resignation. Have we heard an Arkansas Republican suggest a similar outcome for the Bookout or Shoffner affair? Both speedily resigned when faced with their problems, but prosecutions roll on. As they should.

PS — Re the  Republicans who've gone silent on Darr under the theory that they might have to vote some day on either impeachment or removal from office. Balderdash. The question of whether he should resign from public office in the face of  the admitted transgressions is not a legal question. It's a public ethics question. You could even believe a resignation is in order, but as a member of the legislature decide his transgressions didn't rise to impeachment and removal. This is just a dodge. Is he or ain't he worthy of holding office based on the abundant public record of acts that he has admitted?

AMPLIFICATION: I'm reminded that procedures on clemency were changed after Sen. Jerry Jewell of Little Rock, acting as governor, granted clemency in a high-profile criminal case. All executive clemencies now sit for a 30-day review before becoming final, so Beebe would have to be absent for an extended period before an acting governor could pardon or release anyone.

PPS — Stephens Media reports that Darr never availed himself of the training sessions on campaign finance that the Ethics Commission offers all over the state each campaign season to prevent candidates from going astray. If he truly didn't know better, he has only himself to blame, in other words.

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