Governor Seeks Bill To Avoid Special Election After Darr’s Resignation
The same day Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr submitted his final resignation letter, Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters he would sign legislation that would nix prospects for a special election to replace Darr.
Darr submitted his letter of resignation Friday to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office, which makes his resignation effective Saturday. The act completes a resignation process that began Jan. 10, when Darr first announced his resignation following pressure from political leaders after he admitted to campaign spending missteps.
Beebe said legislators have shown him a draft bill that would give him the discretion on whether to call the special election for Darr. House and Senate leaders said they would rather keep the office vacant, since the election will be in November.
Darr said he made unintentional mistakes in reporting campaign expenditures, in collecting travel reimbursements and in using the state credit card.
Those issues are “not worthy of my removal from office,” he initially said in a prepared statement earlier this month.
Darr stepped back from those comments a few days later, sending out a statement announcing his resignation from office, in which he said, “Politics can be a toxic business. I will no longer subject my family to its hard lessons.”
The statement later reads, “I have been honest, forthright and acted with integrity. I made mistakes, but not one with malicious intent.” (See the entire statement below the story)
State lawmakers in Northwest Arkansas reacted to the news earlier this month. Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville) said Darr made the right decision and kept himself from becoming a distraction for a legislature working its way through a fiscal session.
“My first reaction on hearing the news was relief. No one is happy we are in this situation,” Leding said. “No one saw this as a partisan situation. This was a regrettable situation.”
Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) said he believes Darr has been honest throughout the situation and is owning up to his mistakes.
“I think Mark made the right decision. It’s been something he has been dealing with for several weeks now,” Hester said. “Since this started, he’s been honest and forthcoming.”
Darr is fresh off of resignation, but Leding said he would not be surprised if the lieutenant governor were able to continue his involvement in state politics in the future.
“I think in politics, there are always second acts,” Leding said.
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.
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.
Some information from this story was taken from our content partner KTHV in Little Rock. See their story by clicking here.
Attached below is the resignation letter from former Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr.