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State leaders call for Darr's resignation

Posted: December 31, 2013 at 9:40 a.m.
Updated: December 31, 2013 at 3:47 p.m.

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr (File, 2012)

Gov. Mike Beebe and other state leaders have asked Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to resign his post following Darr’s admission that he misspent campaign funds and failed to keep complete records.

"I think it's in everybody's best interest, including Mr. Darr, if he resigned," Beebe said in a Tuesday morning news conference, citing other recent cases.

"The facts speak for themselves," Beebe said.

Darr, a Republican, recently agreed to pay $11,000 in fines after the state Ethics Commission found probable cause to rule that Darr had violated 11 state campaign and ethics laws and misspent more than $44,000 in campaign and taxpayer funds dating back to 2010 when he ran for office.

State Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Insalaco also said Tuesday that Darr should resign immediately, but Democrats weren't the only ones calling for the lieutenant governor to step down.

Republican Sen. John Boozman and Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Tom Cotton issued a joint statement Tuesday afternoon calling for Darr's immediate resignation.

"As elected officials, we are keepers of the public trust. We are bound by a very strict code of conduct that is the basis of that trust. Based on Lt. Gov. Darr's own admissions, it is clear he has violated that trust, and he should step down immediately for the good of our state," the statement reads.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson issued a statement calling Darr's actions "troubling and serious," but the former congressman also noted that the public should respect due process before demanding his resignation.

"The public has a right to expect the highest level of ethical conduct by its elected officials and the public should demand resignation when criminal conduct has occurred. It should be noted that only a prosecutor or grand jury can assess the question of criminal conduct and whether there is probable cause for criminal charges," Hutchinson said. "... If criminal charges are filed then a resignation should be demanded. Until then, we should let the process work and expect the decision of the Ethics Commission in terms of fine and amended reports to be fulfilled."

Darr couldn't be reached for comment immediately after Beebe spoke to reporters, but the lieutenant governor's spokeswoman, Amber Pool, confirmed he plans to stay on the job.

"Lt. Gov. Darr has no plans to resign," she said.

Darr on Monday countersigned the commission's Offer of Settlement. He also included a two-page letter of apology and explanation.

"I do not believe I ever intentionally took money that was not owed to me," Darr wrote to the commissioners. He has 30 days to pay the fine.

The commission cleared Darr of two complaints that addressed perjury and the use of state credit cards.

"The mistakes I made have been well-documented," Darr said in a statement Tuesday. "My focus now is on making things right with the people of Arkansas."

A receptionist at Darr's Capitol office said he wasn't at work Tuesday.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for the full story.

Beebe speaks with Darr, asks him to resign

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe held a brief news conference Tuesday morning to discuss the recent transgressions of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. Beebe suggested that Darr resign, adding that he spoke briefly with him recently and Darr said he had no plans to resign. (By David Harten)
[View Full-Size]

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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