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Monday, June 30, 2014

Lieutenant governor's office closes down today; staffer won't reveal where he and others headed

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 10:40 AM

click to enlarge HAPPIER DAYS: Mark Darr at swearing-in in 2011. He gave notice of his resignation, effective Feb. 1, on Jan. 21.
  • HAPPIER DAYS: Mark Darr at swearing-in in 2011. He gave notice of his resignation, effective Feb. 1, on Jan. 21.
click to enlarge MYOB: Josh Curtis, a Saline County JP, is moving from the defunct lieutenant governor's staff to another public job, but won't say what it is.
  • MYOB: Josh Curtis, a Saline County JP, is moving from the defunct lieutenant governor's staff to another public job, but won't say what it is.
Today is the final day of work for the staff of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who've been paid for light to non-existent duty since Feb. 1, when Darr resigned office in an expense account scandal.

The office had four staffers and a payroll of $300,000 counting overhead. Amber Pool landed a job on the House staff in early June, taking a cut from her $57,000 pay as communications director to $41,000.

That left chief of staff Bruce Campbell ($75,132),  Josh Curtis ($51,564) and Raeanne Gardner ($33,660).

I called the office and reached Curtis, who is also a Republican justice of the peace in Saline County. He confirmed that today would be the last day. He said the three had new jobs and indicated some or all might be in state government. But he declined to identify the jobs. He said he guessed I'd find out eventually what his new public job would be. He said he had not used office time to seek the new job.

Curtis insisted the staff had work to do since Darr left office, though my periodic checks of work product have produced no documents generated in the office and just a tiny handful of e-mails. He said people came into the office all the time.

He said he didn't know if the phone would be forwarded somewhere after the staff departed and he didn't know if the website would be updated to reflect the absence of staff for the office. He declined to speak for Gardner or Campbell on their plans. He said both had "just stepped out," when I asked to speak to them. I've left a message asking about their future plans. Something tells me not to hold my breath.

The four-man featherbedding in Darr's office was decreed by Sen. Michael Lamoureux, the president pro tem of the Senate. He claimed jurisdiction over the matter though Attorney General Dustin McDaniel opined it was outside his range of powers. But nobody mounted a legal challlenged to paying $25,000 a month to people who had no one to work for and no duties to perform except answering the occasional phone call from a nosy reporter.

But I ask you this: Has Arkansas missed a lieutenant governor?

By agreement with the legislature, Gov. Mike Beebe didn't call a special election to fill the vacancy. A successor will be elected in November. 

I presume that,as  before, somebody will let me know where Campbell, Gardner and Curtis have relocated.

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