Now Mark Darr in ethics barrel 

I wrote last week that the ethics violations by Sen. Paul Bookout were only the beginning of the story.

No kidding. Hours later, the Blue Hog Report website rolled out an examination of the campaign finance reports Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has filed since he won election in 2010. He ended the campaign owing himself $115,000. In the three years since then, he's raised $127,000, but paid down only $97,0000 of the debt.

How's that? Darr has been using his campaign account like an ATM. He charged it tank after tank of gas. He charged restaurant meals. He bought clothing at men's, women's and children's stores. He bought season football tickets for University of Arkansas games in 2011 in both Fayetteville and Little Rock.

He made fraudulent statements about these personal expenditures, calling them "supplies" or "fund-raising." He and other politicians claim that Razorback tickets are a necessity to get out in public to meet the kinds of people that can help you retire your debt. But four seats? Not just one? The same question could be asked when Darr uses campaign or public expense in taking his wife along on out-of-state trips.

Yes, some of the $30,000 Darr spent went to campaign fund-raising — a golf tournament, for example. But thousands did not.

After the Ethics Commission reprimanded Paul Bookout, the outcry from Republicans was immediate and justified. They wanted him gone and prosecuted. In less than a week, he resigned. And a Democratic prosecutor has put a special prosecutor to work.

Darr is in the process of amending his campaign reports to remove the lies. He'll say he just made a mistake. That he should have reported money spent on himself as loan payback. Yes, he should have. But he didn't. Because the scam he operated allowed him to raise money in excess of loan payback and pocket some boodle for himself.

Darr hopes for the kid-glove treatment Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson got when he "self-reported" his mistress' use of campaign money in his Senate campaign in 2010. The Ethics Commission took Hutchinson at his word that a couple of checks were all that was wrong with his campaign, an iffy proposition given his train wreck of a personal life and a girlfriend with access to his campaign checkbook.

If Darr's campaign gets the searching look it deserves, he should be in line for sanctions as serious as those meted out to Paul Bookout. Darr turned himself in only after being caught red-handed. He didn't maintain adequate records. He spent campaign money on personal use. He misrepresented the nature of the expenditures. Darr has added problems in explaining some expenses from his taxpayer-financed office expense account.

Note this: As the noise about Bookout grew, a number of Democrats expressed disapproval of what he'd done and several called for his resignation. To date, not a single Republican has stepped forward to criticize Darr, much less call for his resignation or a special prosecutor's review.

Among many changes needed in the state ethics laws is stiffer punishment. As it stands a violation of campaign finance reporting, including personal use of the money, is punishable only as a misdemeanor.

There's no reason why the violation shouldn't be promoted to a felony when the amount of money misuse reaches an amount necessary to file a felony theft charge — $1,000. You can see where that might make a politician like Mark Darr a little nervous. His clothing bill alone at Belk, Dillard's, Walker Brothers, New York and Co. and Justice (for kids) exceeded that.


Speaking of...


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • The education legislature

    Republican political control in Arkansas means many things: lots of gun bills, lots of anti-abortion bills, lots of efforts to make religious belief law, such as discrimination against gay people.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • So many provocations...

    Another bad week demands a Worst Of listing.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • State university secrets

    Today's subject: lack of accountability at state universities.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trumped in Arkansas

    • What a funny article, I hope sarcasm was your intent! First, since this was written…

    • on October 23, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • We are leaving in 3 hours. An I never said that anybody said I DID…

    • on October 22, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation