The state Ethics Commission is reviewing the egregiously improper campaign finance reports filed by Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. He raised money in excess of campaign debt and spent thousands on personal expenses, including car mileage, clothing and meals.
But Matt Campbell, author of Blue Hog Report, has also begun reviewing Darr’s office expenses. Taxpayers have been charged for thousands in what appear to be commuting charges for Darr between his Springdale home and the Capitol. That’s not allowed. Taxpayers also have been charged for travel expenses of questionable qualification for public support. Further examinations are planned to see if Darr billed both taxpayers and his campaign for the same travel.
Darr has admitted error on the campaign reports. His office has not responded to my questions about the taxpayer-financed expenditures.
I sent notes also to the co-chairs of the legislature’s audit committee, Rep. Kim Hammer and Sen. Bryan King. They moved with alacrity to demand an audit of Treasurer Martha Shoffner after reporting on her apparent favoritism in bond investments (a pattern first reported on the Arkansas Blog.)
King didn’t respond to my question about whether he’d ask for an audit of Darr’s office expenses. Hammer responded Tuesday:
Thanks for the inquiry. Let me confirm your request against the procedures and I will get back with you tomorrow. Respectfully, Kim Hammer
He did not get back with me.
To date, no Republican official has criticized any of Darr’s reported errors and omissions. Republican apologists have said those attempting to draw out comment about Darr are merely trying to cover Democratic misdeeds. I can speak only for myself. We covered quickly and thoroughly the Shoffner and Bookout scandals and made clear disapproval of their actions and the need for audit and prosecutorial review. GOP Chairman Doyle Webb, who once oversaw a lawsuit against Democratic officeholders over abuse of car expenses, is particularly deafening in his silence. The message is that Republicans are concerned only with ethical standards for Democrats, not misdeeds by their own.