The last morning of 2013: Ice not so nice; time for prosecutors to review Mark Darr | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The last morning of 2013: Ice not so nice; time for prosecutors to review Mark Darr

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 6:23 AM

State Police reporting some icy spots on highways this morning. One particular trouble spot Highway 67 ramp to I-440.

Looking around, there's not much requiring immediate attention. One catchup:

click to enlarge SEND IN THE PROSECUTORS: The Darr file is thick.
  • SEND IN THE PROSECUTORS: The Darr file is thick.
* ANOTHER ETHICS VIOLATOR: In reporting yesterday in Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's record-setting $11,000 fine for multiple ethics law violations, I should also have mentioned the conclusion of an investigation of former state Rep. Hudson Hallum. As he'd indicated to me earlier he would do, he accepted a fine ($2,500) and letters of caution and warning for a variety of campaign finance violations, particularly misreporting of a loan to his campaign by his father, reported as a bank loan. He's filed corrected reports. He resigned his office and pleaded guilty to conspiring along with others to buy votes in his election to the House. 

To Hallum's credit, he offered no defense when he talked to me about his violations. Or indeed when he pleaded to a federal charge.

Stark contrast to Darr, who continues to suggest in his written letter that he's just guilty of some bookkeeping screwups. In fact, he's lived illegally out of campaign and office accounts for years, a continuing reflection of a life in personal financial disarray. And he thinks it unfair he's getting all this grief about it. He has no plans to resign. I should remind, as I did in the case of resigned cheater Paul Bookout, that the Ethics Commission only has civil authority over enforcement of statutes. But each law it believes Darr violated can be construed as a misdemeanor criminal violation as well. A special prosecutor is now reviewing Bookout's cheating on his Senate campaign account. My sources say the feds may also be reviewing. Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley already has the Legislative Audit file on Darr's illegal spending of public money on himself. He can now pick up the Ethics Commission file on similar violations in the campaign realm to review for additional action. Darr could save everyone some trouble, as Bookout did, by resigning. The record seems to indicate he can't afford to do so.

* AN IDEA FOR 2014: Having just been unable to resist popping off on Twitter in response to one of Sen. Jason Rapert's hypocritical tweets (he solemnly urged prayers for his enemies from the same keyboard by which he'd recently been calling them names), I came across some good advice, if wishful thinking, from NY Times columnist Frank Bruni. In short, he counseled, read more, Tweet less.

In 2014 and beyond, one of our challenges will be to exploit the great advantages of social media — as town crier, as public square, as connector — while sidestepping the pitfalls, chief among them the encouragement of, and reward for, hasty pronouncements, which are all too often intemperate ones.

On social media, on many blogs and along other byways of the Internet, the person you disagree with isn’t just misinformed but moronic, corrupt, evil. Complaints become rants. Rants become diatribes. And this tendency travels to cable news shows, Congress and statehouses, where combatants shout first and ask questions later.

For more than two decades, there’s been a celebration of slow food. Over the last few years, we’ve proved receptive to slow TV. What we really need is slow debate. It would trade the sugary highs and lows of rapid-fire outrage for a more balanced diet. We’d be healthier. Probably happier, too.

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