Mark Darr used campaign money to buy Razorback tickets | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mark Darr used campaign money to buy Razorback tickets

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 4:40 PM


FUND-RAISING: The Darrs do football.
  • FUND-RAISING: The Darrs do football.

Blue Hog Report continues his examination of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's campaign financial expenditures.

When last we visited, Blue Hog had totted up a lot of unusual Darr expenditures — gas, dining, clothing — as Darr continued to try to pay down debt from his 2010 political campaign. Darr and his spokespeople and campaign consultants have, to date, refused to respond to questions about the report. In due course, a complaint will be filed with the state Ethics Commission and he'll get an opportunity to explain there. An earlier explanation would seem useful to him politically, given his current candidacy for 4th District Congress.

Nonetheless, the news today from Blue Hog is that he's learned through an FOI request to the University of Arkansas that a $1,500 expenditure Darr reported in October 2011 as a "fund-raising expenditure" at the University of Arkansas purchased Razorback football tickets — season tickets in Fayetteville and in Little Rock. Blue Hog says his examination of Darr records doesn't turn up any contributions that appear related to that expenditure.

(Note correction: the original report misstated the purchase as 8 tickets.)

This brings us back, in a way, to John Burris.

As Burris told us earlier today, the Ethics Commission has signed off on his expenditure of campaign money to give to other candidates under the theory that his attendance at those events enhances his exposure and puts him in contact with many people useful to a politician.

If and when Darr gets around to explaining his ongoing use of campaign money, I'd be willing to bet we'll hear an excuse somewhat along those lines from him. And, given the wiggle room the Ethics Commission seems willing to extend, who knows if it might not prevail? (His car expenses are more problematic because of specific rules on maintaining logs and such. And: Does his honking big truck really use that much gas?)

And let me also do something that you won't catch a Republican doing when they find a Democrat stepping out of line on an ethical matter: I'll mention that Darr isn't the only person who ever bought football tickets with campaign money. In July 2010, then Secretary of State Charlie Daniels used carryover campaign money to purchase $760 in Razorback tickets. Carryover money is somewhat different from campaign money (campaign spending post-election is only allowed to pay down debt), though prohibitions on strictly personal use remain the same. But, as the Burris case illustrates, what's not political about getting out in public when you're a public official? 


Was it John Burris who said: "L'etat c'est moi"?  Maybe it was Louis XIV. 


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