When Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr announced his intention to resign his post on Feb. 1, those of us who received the letter immediately scanned it to find out how exactly he would let the people of Arkansas know that he understood his wrongdoings.
We scanned and scanned and scanned. Then we decided to read it closely, word by word. We found this:
I made mistakes, but not one with malicious intent.
That was it. Mistakes. Just prior to that admission was this sentence:
I have been honest, forthright and acted with integrity.
Other than the obvious grammatical error, we take issue with the integrity part. We agree that the ethical issues — using state money for personal expenses including those involving his campaign — would not be considered malicious. We also agree that once everything was brought to light, Darr did not run from the accusations and was honest and forthright, so much so that he planted a stake in the ground and decided not to budge from his position at the state capitol.
It was only at the point of an obvious impeachment process — not when the governor called and advised resignation — when Darr decided it was best for himself and his family to vacate the office, although what he plans on doing for the next 20 days in anyone’s guess. Even the hidden jab that he will not submit his letter to Gov. Beebe, only to the Arkansas people, shows that this letter is not an apology for what he had done but rather the chance at a “Mel Gibson in Braveheart” type of speech.
And that’s when he gives us his last paragraph, a thumb at anyone who believes he should have resigned much earlier:
Politics can be a toxic business. I will no longer subject my family to its hard lessons. All my forgiveness to those who play the games and all my respect and appreciation to those who serve with class and humility.
One can infer that Darr is not stepping down because of anything he did, but because of the “toxic business” that his opponents are stirring up. He even is offering forgiveness, to whom we do not know. We were actually hoping he would be asking for forgiveness for making a mockery of the second highest ranking job in Arkansas’ government.
The sad lesson from this last act in Darr’s brief political career — although he may emerge in a few years — is that no matter what political party one is a part of, ethical violations have plagued the state during all of 2013. We were hoping to close this chapter of our government with a little more remorse. But Darr wouldn’t even give us that.