Say it ain’t so. Say that part of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s defense of ethical violations won’t be that he was targeted by evil Democrats because he opposed Obamacare. (Remember his legally empty demagoguery in joining a lawsuit against the health legislation?)
Nothing would surprise me at this point.
If invoking the name of the black Muslim in the White House is all that’s necessary to defend converting public money to personal use, prepare for Republicans to head down to the treasurer’s vault with wheelbarrows and shovels.
For your reading pleasure, I’ve gotten the report done by Legislative Audit, a tool of legislative Republicans in recent months.
To refresh your memory of Dec. 12, the Audit that day said — and Darr did not dispute — that in a single fiscal year (the audit did not go back to the beginning of the Darr Reign of Error in 2011):
* He charged $2,339 in personal expenses to a state-paid credit card. He has not yet reimbursed all those illegally reimbursed expenses.
* He was reimbursed $9,298 for personal commuting expenses, illegal under the state Constitution and statute. (And taxable under federal rules.)
* $169 was paid Darr in excessive mileage reimbursement for a trip he could have taken cheaper by plane.
* $164 was improperly paid an employee who chauffeured Darr from his home in Springdale to the Capitol.
* $2,755 in expense reimbursements were noted for undocumented expenses. For business or personal reaons? Who knows? In any other business, without documentation, the employee wouldn’t get the money. Darr should pay it back, too, if he can’t provide documentation.
So there you have $14,725 paid out to Darr in TAXPAYER money that he either got illegally or without proper documentation.
And it’s Obama’s fault? A report filed in a committee chaired by two Republicans and prepared by an agency whose chief counsel is a Republican of long and devoted standing?
Failing that excuse, Darr will undoubtedly make this out a partisan witchhunt, though a number of Republicans have called for his resignation, too.
It is true that a Democrat, Matt Campbell, filed the complaint with the Ethics Commission that produced the finding that Darr had spent more than $31,000 in campaign money on illegal personal expenses. (Darr did not dispute the conclusion, only whether he had malicious intent.) But it is also true that the Democrat won a race with Darr to the Ethics Commission. Darr reported himself, too, after a campaign consultant quit his aborted congressional campaign after seeing what a disaster Darr was when it came to expense accounts. For irony, heap on the $6,000 in illegal excess contributions Darr took from a major political player, John Goodson, a Beebe appointee to the University of Arkanas Board of Trustees, and Goodson’s daughter and law partner. Maybe Goodson was just setting up Darr for a fall, too, on account of Obamacare. Yeah, that must be it. Not just another rent-to-own political play by Goodson.
Darr has played the victim from the first and whined that the Constitution “screwed” him by limiting his ability to tap the state for driving-around money.
But Arkansas is a compassionate place. Its voters know what it’s like to be short of cash. Maybe Darr can pull out a populist fiddle and portray himself as a victim of the wealthy elites. But if he does, he’s going to put some of his own party on the spot in roll call votes on impeachment. We’ll find out beginning about 1:15 or so today, when Darr begins finishing individual interviews with select reporters. Hell, if voters buy it, there’s no reason he shouldn’t run for re-election.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
AP got the first slot in Darr’s reporter round-robin. It Tweets, as I indicated last night, that he doesn’t intend to resign. More on the Darr rear-covering as it arrives.
Angela Rachels, quoting from a statement distributed by Darr’s office:
Darr statement: Today I put a stake in the ground for those…sick and tired of these types of political games and the people who play them.
I kid you not. It is a political game to audit the lieutenant governor and expect that he file proper campaign reports.