Blue Hog Report, who’s earned the right, provides some commentary on expense- and campaign-account cheat Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. Darr, caught red-handed tapping the public till for personal use, had either the gall or stupidity to remark to auditors that his job was only “part-time.” No kidding.
Blue Hog details the job’s scant and light duties — preside over the Senate and act as governor should Mike Beebe make the mistake of leaving the state so that Darr can engage in stupid stuff like signing bills. Also, Blue Hog lists these duties:
Don’t use your state-issued credit card for personal expenses. This should go without saying, but . . . well . . . .
Don’t break IRS rules by reimbursing yourself for improper mileage. Related to the previous duty, this should also not need to be specified, but we’ll go ahead and list it since there seems to be some uncertainty about it.
Darr makes almost $42,000 a year, more than the median household in Arkansas. (Plus, his stature entitles him to cut-rate Razorback football tickets and free parking from the University of Arkansas, a benefit worth thousands in tax-free emoluments.) Given his scant work days, his pay alone is equivalent to about $128,000 a year, Blue Hog figures. But that ain’t all our cost for this teat on a boar hog.
… if this really were a part-time office, you would expect that it would receive noticeably less money for operating expenses and travel costs than, say, the Land Commissioner, who everyone seems to agree is a full time office. Yet, instead, the Lt. Governor’s office gets $49,359 in operating expenses and $16,000 in travel expenses; the Land Commissioner receives $66,000 for operating and $10,000 for travel, despite having 45 employees to the Lt. Governor’s four.
Some have argued that it is impractical to demand Darr’s resignation. Under this theory, taxpayers should accept a little law-breaking by an elected official rather than go through the trouble of a special election. I’ll play a Republican here. Actions should have consequences. You cheat, you get caught, you pay. Swift and certain punishment. Isn’t that what the law-and-order Republican types are always demanding?
If Darr were to resign — as anybody with shame would do — maybe Mike Beebe wouldn’t need to hurry to have a special election to fill it before the next elected lieutenant governor comes along. I wonder, also, if you could make the special election coincide with the regular election and thus just be a proxy for the main event, with a headstart on service.
PS — Yes, you could have both the special election for the remainder of a Darr term and the election for the term beginning in 2015 on the same ballot.