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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Paul Rawlings: SHOCKING, ALARMING, GREATLY DISAPPOINTING—SOMETIME

  • Republicans aren't as quick to condemn Mark Darr's ethics issues
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  • “Today’s developments regarding Paul Bookout are shocking, alarming, and greatly disappointing.  This represents a very serious breach of the public’s trust.  It is sad that this type of behavior is all too common among Arkansas Democrats, who have controlled the state for the last 130 years.  We hope that our state’s leaders and the justice system will hold Senator Bookout Accountable, just as they have in the cases of Martha Shoffner and Hudson Hallum.”  David Ray Spokesman for the Republican Party of Arkansas 
     
    “Today, I am calling on Treasurer Martha Shoffner to resign her office as Treasurer of the State of Arkansas.  While our justice system provides for her presumed innocence until proven guilt, the wrongful acts that are alleged are very serious in nature and are directly related to her official duties as State Treasurer.  The incompetence that has been uncovered, the criminal charges that are pending, and the distraction from her office that due process will involve make her unfit to continue in her service as State Treasurer.  For these reasons she should resign.”  Doyle Webb Chairman Arkansas Republican Party
     
    Republican OUTRAGE at Democrats “shocking” “alarming” “greatly disappointing” conduct.
     
    “DARR’S MILEAGE EXPENSES RULED IMPROPER IN AUDIT”---Headline Arkansas Democrat Gazette December 13, 2013.
     
    This article states The Legislative Joint Audit Committee found Mark Darr, the Republican Lt. Governor since January 2011, improperly received $9,298.00 in state funds for mileage reimbursement between January 2011 and September 2013 and recommended he reimburse the state $9,298.00. 
     
    Darr told reporters  “I apologize for any mistakes that I made or my office made” and said he would pay back the amount the auditors recommended as soon as possible.
     
    Darr and the state Republican Party did not respond to the newspaper’s requests to respond to state Democratic Party Vince Insalaco’s statement that “Mark Darr’s blatant abuse of government resources is deplorable.”
     
    The State Ethics Commission is currently investigating the ethics complaint Darr filed against himself on August 23, 2013 in which he acknowledged there were problems with his campaign finance reports and the Commission is also investigating  two complaints filed against Darr by attorney Matt Campbell alleging Darr violated the state’s ethics laws.
     
    The Legislative Joint Audit Committee found Darr filed a false claim against the State of Arkansas for travel expenses the first month he was in office and continued to file such claims for more than 2 ½ years and until he had improperly collected a total of $9,298.00 from the taxpayers of Arkansas which amount he promised to repay as soon as possible. 
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    A copy of the Legislative Joint Audit Committee’s report has been referred to Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney, Larry Jegley.
     
    Not one Republican has expressed OUTRAGE at Republican Darr’s conduct or found it “shocking” “alarming” “greatly disappointing” or a “serious breach of the public’s trust”  making him “unfit  to continue in his service as Lt. Governor.”
     
    Why haven’t Republicans expressed the same OUTRAGE for Darr they expressed many times over a long period of time for the conduct of Bookout, Hallum and Shoffner?”
    Could it be Republicans have one standard of conduct for Democrats and another for Republicans.
     
    Stephen Meeks a two term Republican Arkansas legislator’s response to Darr’s  false claims for travel expense:  “lawmakers might look in the future at reimbursing constitutional officers for travel expenses from their home to Little Rock and back as well as lodging expenses.”
     
    Is Meek’s OUTRAGE that Arkansas’s constitutional officers are not paid travel expense for driving their cars from their homes to the State Capitol and also paid their lodging expenses? 
     
    Is paying more taxpayer dollars to Republican elected officials than Democrats were paid for 140 years a part of Meeks Republican plan of  “less government” “lower taxes” for Arkansas?
     
    Will Republicans at the next legislative session CHANGE THE LAW which for 140 years has made it illegal for Democrat to collect travel and lodging expenses and make it legal for Republican Darr to receive travel expenses when he drives his car from Rogers to Little Rock and pay his lodging expenses at the Embassy Suites?
     
    *After this article was written but prior to being published the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on 12/19/13 did a follow up article on Darr’s ethics and regulations violations with this headline.  “2 AGREE PANEL STAFF HAS EVIDENCE DARR VIOLATED STATES ETHICHS RULES.” 
     
    (Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes each week to the editorial pages of The Sun-Times)
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