Darr To Meet With Media Today In Little Rock On Political Future

Mark Darr.jpg

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has scheduled meetings with reporters on Tuesday (Jan. 7) at the Capitol in Little Rock to discuss his political future.

Darr’s wife, Kim, is set to be with him in the interview sessions, according a source involved in scheduling the meetings. The one-on-one meetings with reporters are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

It was unclear on Monday whether Darr will declare that he is resigning from office.

Arkansas’ Republican congressional delegation, Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and other elected officials and candidates have called for Darr to resign over ethics issues.

(Darr, right, is pictured during an appearance last year on “5NEWS Sunday Morning” with 5NEWS Managing Editor Larry Henry.)

On Dec. 31, Beebe phoned Darr and asked him to quit, but Darr declined the request, stating he would stay in office, according to Beebe’s spokesman Matt DeCample.

The Democratic governor’s request for the Republican second-in-command to step down came one day after Darr agreed to pay $11,000 in fines. The state Ethics Commission found probable cause Darr had violated 11 state campaign and ethics laws dating back to 2010.

In the wake of the ethics ruling, Darr admitted he erred on campaign finance filings, signed a letter from the Ethics Commission that admitted guilt, and agreed to pay the fines.

After the call from the governor, though, Amber Pool, a spokeswoman for Darr, said the lieutenant governor had no intention of stepping down.

Beebe’s resignation call only holds symbolic weight. The popular governor has no authority to force Darr out because both are independent constitutional officers for the state of Arkansas. According to DeCample, only the state Legislature, which meets again next month for a fiscal session, can force Darr to resign.

After the call with Beebe, Darr attempted to move past the call for his resignation in a prepared statement.

“The mistakes I made have been well documented,” he said. “My focus now is on making things right with the people of Arkansas.”

Darr was elected lieutenant governor in 2010, defeating Democrat state Sen. Shane Broadway. Darr has not indicated whether he will seek re-election in 2014.

In August, Darr declared his intention to run for the open U.S. House seat in Arkansas’s 4th Congressional District that’s currently held by Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, who’s decided to challenge Democrat Mark Pryor for his U.S. Senate seat.

Shortly after his announcement, however, left-leaning Arkansas blogger Matt Campbell began to report improper spending by Darr’s 2010 campaign. Because of these questions over campaign finances, Darr called off his congressional campaign less than a month after declaring.

Term-limited, Beebe cannot run for another term in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Republican state Reps. Charlie Collins and Andy Mayberry are running in the lieutenant governor’s race in the 2014 election, as is Democrat John Burkhalter.

If Darr resigns, the governor could call special election to determine the interim lieutenant governor. That person would have to win the regular November general election in order to serve a full four-year term. As current elected officials, Mayberry and Collins would be barred from running in the special election. Some political observers believe a well-financed candidate such as the Democrat Burkhalter would have an advantage in the regular November election, if he won the special election, because he could run as an incumbent.

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