Further reading since my post yesterday afternoon from O’Hare Airport about the audit of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s expense account abuse has only raised my temperature.
Darr REALLY didn’t know any better than to spend taxpayer money on personal expenses, including lodging and commuting costs?
Where was he when the state Republican Party’s chair, Doyle Webb, filed a lawsuit over state officials who used state cars for personal use, including a state official who commuted from another county?
Legislative Audit, whose Republican-leaning staff has been employed by the controlling Republican members as a hit squad on Democrats and other unpopular characters, were pussycats yesterday, quietly and almost apologetically referring the conversion of state money to private use to a prosecutor for a review. But not before Rep. Stephen Meeks, who claims to be a Tea Party advocate of smaller government spending, expressed sympathy for poor old Mark Darr, elected from Springdale and having to work in Little Rock. Legislators get to pad their pay with bloated expenses, Meeks said. Why shouldn’t Darr? Maybe because the Constitution prohibits it.
Another shoe will drop when the state Ethics Commission takes up campaign expenses Darr charged to taxpayers. along with personal expenses, including for clothing, charged to the campaign. And perhaps we’ll then have sufficient details to judge whether Darr did what circumstantial evidence already indicates — double-charge for some expenses on both campaign and taxpayer accounts.
The situation was bad enough that Darr abruptly abandoned a congressional campaign. He has acknowledged multiple “mistakes.” He can do no other against the facts. Republicans really are going to defend him simply because he is one of their own?
Michael Cook’s outrage coverage of this is worth a read.
One would-be successor to Darr, Rep. Andy Mayberry, was at the meeting and showed no outrage. He merely inquired politely as to whether Darr’s staff had now been properly trained. Oh, OK. No foul, then. I don’t recall any Democrats defending Martha Shoffner or Paul Bookout as rapidly unfolding events led to their prompt resignations after disclosures of their abuse of the public trust.
Being a Republican apparently means not having to resign your office for ethical violations. Or even be asked to say you’re sorry to members of the Audit SWAT Team, which was busy elsewhere yesterday bullying a state agency out of taking action against an illegal dam built in Van Buren County. (Admittedly, the state Natural Resources Commission that took the action met illegally itself and has a long history of high-handed actions of its own. It will be left to federal regulators to move against the scofflaw. That the scofflaw turns up as a contributor to Republican political candidate is probably only coincidental to Sen. Bryan King’s use of Audit as a tool against those trying to enforce the law on his unpermitted dam.)
Question for the day: Will the fellow OBU alum that Mark Darr appointed to the state Ethics Commission, William Bird, participate in reviewing his case next week?
Has the Republican Party, Legislative Audit and Mark Darr no shame? He should resign. Yesterday. Given his inability to make restitution to date — and given his many other financial woes, including at one time a defaulted mortgage (hey, maybe nobody told him the law required you to make payments on mortgages), you can guess why he might be hanging on so hard to an office he has dishonored.
Staggering hypocrisy at work here.