David Goins of Fox 16 tweets that Republican state Rep. Andy Mayberry, a candidate for lieutenant governor, has joined others in calling for Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to resign for ethics violations. You may recall that Mayberry — on the legislative audit committee that first learned officially that Darr had spent taxpayer money on illegal personal expenses — seemed interested only in learning if Darr’s staff had been properly retrained on handling reimbursements. Darr assured him they had. As if the lawbreaking was the staff’s fault, and not Darr himself.
Well, better later than never to the cause of more ethical public officials.
So what about Rep. Charlie Collins, another Republican candidate for No. 2. I’ve sent him several queries but have received no responses yet.
Darr insists he had a pure heart and no evil intent, though he admits some recordkeeping problems. If so, then of course he should serve out his term through 2014. No matter how uncomfortable that makes other Republicans like Mayberry.
The betting is, however, that Darr will inevitably step down. But who knows? That would require the Father of the State Checkbook (the much lauded but lightly employed on-line compilation of state spending created by a law Darr touted) to quit because he couldn’t keep his own books straight. If he does quit before a prosecutor’s review of his violations, I think you can credit the relatively quick and unified action of the Republican congressional delegation in calling for his absence, even though gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson and GOP Chair Doyle Webb will not.
Goins quotes Mayberry as saying that Darr’s presiding over Senate could be a distraction during legislative session. Does anybody really care who sits in the chair with the gavel. There’d be no public distraction because the Senate isn’t televised.
PS — Here is Mayberry’s statement of way-too-many words in which he says Democrats were worse, but …. Well, OK, maybe Darr should quit. You’ll find at the same link that Democratic candidate John Burkhalter said in many fewer words that Darr should resign.
PPS — The notion that Democrats could get a lift from a special election (sitting legislators Mayberry and Collins couldn’t run) is a notion perhaps worth some thought. Special elections have light turnouts, particularly for meaningnless offices with little at stake. In a year when Democrats held virtually every office, there once was a special election, in 1993, to fill a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office. It matched Mike Huckabee and Nate Coulter. Huckabee got 50.9 percent of the vote. You could say it changed history. Circumstances today are far less favorable to Democratic candidates generally, even one with a thick wallet.