Local legislators weigh in on Darr

The Log Cabin asked state politicians from Faulkner County what they thought about calls for Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s resignation. Darr was asked to resign by Gov. Mike Beebe last week after Darr admitted to spending campaign funds for personal expenses.

Darr has agreed to $11,000 in fines to the state ethics commission and has admitted to “mistakes in record-keeping and disclosure,” and said on Tuesday that he didn’t personally profit from the alleged violations and intended to stay in office.

The Arkansas Ethics Commission has civil authority to enforce state statutes, including those related to campaign finance. Larry Jegley, 6th Judicial District prosecutor, is investigating Darr’s accounts and may file criminal charges, which would probably be misdemeanors.

Here’s what the county’s legislators had to say:

Rep. David Meeks (R)

“I’m waiting for the process to work out. My take at this time is just to wait and see what the prosecutor actually says. If he brings charges, I think it’s obvious at that point that we need to sit down. If he doesn’t bring charges it’s not so obvious to me.”

Rep. Stephen Meeks (R)

“At this point, if there’s criminal charges forthcoming, at that point I would probably request he resign, but I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon. ... It’s a big thing in politics that when somebody gets in trouble everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon and beat them down because it makes themselves look better.

“I’m going to let the process work and it’ll be up to Mark to make the decision that’s best for him and best for the state. If criminal prosecution comes forth, then it’s more clear that he needs to resign.”

Rep. Steve Magie (D)

“When you run for public office, one of the first things that happens to you is somebody from the Arkansas Ethics commission gives you a little book, and it’s not an arduous task to go through that material and know exactly what you’re supposed to do with your campaign reporting and what you’re not supposed to do. Saying that ‘I didn’t know I was supposed to do that or not do that,’ to me it calls for resignation because he’s disgraced the office and the state.

“He was contrite [when appearing before the ethics board], as you would be, but he’s a public official, and I think we’re held to a higher standard than ‘I didn’t know it was wrong.’ ”

Rep. Doug House (R)

"I understand that he has decided not to resign. That is his right, just as he has the right to internal investigation and a right to a presumption of innocence and the right to present the findings of the investigation to the House. They will take a look at the information and see if articles of impeachment should be presented.

"I talked to Congressman [Tim] Griffin about the allegations against Lt.Gov. Darr, and I find those allegations to be credible, and so they warrant taking the next step, which is an investigation. I will then obtain the documents that exist and take a look at them myself."

Sen. Jason Rapert (R) were contacted for this story but said they were in committee meetings and were unable to respond by press time.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by email at joe.lamb@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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