I have received a response from Rep. Kim Hammer of Benton concerning whether he thinks an audit is necessary for reports about Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s use of office expense account for personal travel, a father-son fishing trip and other questionable expenses, such as a trip to Texas to see Gov. Rick Perry.
Hammer is co-chair of the legislature’s audit committee. That committee, pressed by co-chair Sen. Bryan King, pushed for a special review of Treasurer Martha Shoffner after reports here and elsewhere about her pattern of unusual amounts of investment activity with a particular broker.
Hammer said by e-mail:
The annual audit of the office of Lt. Governor is currently being conducted and for me to comment prior to the audit results being released would not be proper. If any “questionable expense claims” or any other matter should be identified, I am committed as House Chair to be diligent in addressing the matter to the fullest extent in order to provide transparency and accountability. Respectfully, Rep. Hammer
This answer leaves a potentially gaping hole in the audit division’s review. The simple record of Darr’s mileage reimbursements alone doesn’t always suggest improper charges by Darr, though there are many questions about his apparent claim of reimbursement for travel to and from his home in Springdale without ostensible business reasons to do so. But, in recent times, Darr’s apparent double-dipping came from charging his office account at 42 cents a mile for travel on trips on which he also appears to have charged his campaign account for car fillups. The reimbursements by the state were not adjusted for those payments.
We shall see if the auditors, headed by a deeply partisan chief counsel, Frank Arey, are as dogged in review of Darr as they have been in review of Shoffner.