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Arkansas Governor Asks Lt. Gov. Darr To Quit Over Ethics Case

Michael Hibblen

Gov. Mike Beebe is calling on Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to resign from office, after Darr admitted to misusing thousands of campaign and taxpayer dollars.

The stateEthics Commission found that Darr likely violated ethics rules by using the money for personal expenditures, while also collecting campaign contributions that exceed legal limits. In all, Darr has admitted to 11 violations, though he refuses to resign.

The Ethics Commission fined Darr $11,000 in a settlement. Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Tuesday, Governor Beebe said that in Darr’s case, the “facts speak for themselves”, while comparing the precedent of resignation set by previous ethics violators to the current Lieutenant Governor’s case.

“I don’t know that there is a standard, I think you take each one on a case by case basis. But I think the volume, the sheer volume and the amount of the fine and the precedent with others similarly situated lend themselves [to resignation]. But that’s his choice. There’s nothing I can make him do,” Beebe said.

In a brief statement to KUAR, Darr’s spokeswoman Amber Pool confirmed the Lieutenant Governor’s position.

“He has no intentions of resigning,” she said.

Beebe said he talked on the phone with Darr and was told basically the same thing. Pointing to Darr’s long list of allegations, Beebe said resignation should be Darr’s only option.

While admitting fault in a statement to the Ethics commission that “it is a mistake to infer that he ever took money I was not entitled to.”

“We all make mistakes,” said Beebe. “I guess it becomes a matter of degree. If you mess up once or twice, you inadvertently do something that’s explainable that’s one thing. If it’s a pattern that’s longstanding or widespread then it becomes a question of whether it’s a mistake or not and apparently that’s what you got to decide in this case.” 

Beebe pointed to the example of other officials, like former state senator Paul Bookout who Beebe said set a clear precedent in responding to ethics troubles by resigning from office. Beebe said Darr’s case is more serious.

“There’s a couple differences: One, his fine was more than Bookout’s. And two he had allegations, apparently proven allegations that it wasn’t just campaign money for personal use, it was taxpayer money,” he said.

In August, Darr bowed out of the Fourth District Congressional race and later filed an ethics complaint against himself after the liberal-leaning Blue Hog Report Blog questioned the accounting of his campaign expenditures. Matt Campbell, who runs the blog, also filed an ethics complaint against the Lieutenant Governor.

Darr has agreed to pay back campaign contributions that exceeded the legal limit. The Ethics Commission gave him the option of making 11 monthly, $1,000 payments for his fine.

Michael Hibblen was a journalist for KUAR News from May 2009 — December 2022. During his final 10 years with the station, he served as News Director. In January 2023, he was hired by Arkansas PBS to become its Senior Producer/ Director of Public Affairs.
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