UPDATE: Gov. Beebe, lawmakers call for Lt Gov Mark Darr's resignation
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Governor Mike Beebe told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday morning at he had called for Lt. Governor Mark Darr's resignation over recent ethics commission findings.
Beebe said he called Darr earlier that morning and asked if he would resign. Darr said, 'No,' and Beebe replied, "That's disappointing."
"I think it's in everybody's best interest, including Mr. Darr, if he resign," Beebe said at the press conference. "The facts speak for themselves. Other people resigned, other people of varying degrees of similar situations."
The Ethics Commission released a letter Monday offering Darr a settlement to claims that he misspent campaign funds and failed to keep complete records. The commission proposed $1,000 fines for each of 11 violations and said that, by signing, Darr agreed with the findings. Darr signed the settlement later that day.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson called the violations "troubling and serious." Hutchinson said elected officials should be held accountable for their conduct.
"In the case of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, the ethical violations are troubling and serious and should be reviewed by the prosecuting attorney. As a former prosecutor, I understand the importance of holding public officials accountable for improper conduct," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson added that if criminal charges are filed then Darr should resign.
"In my view, the public has a right to expect the highest level of ethical conduct by its elected officials and the public should demand resignation when criminal conduct has occurred. It should be noted that only a prosecutor or grand jury can assess the question of criminal conduct and whether there is probable cause for criminal charges. It is my understanding that the Pulaski County prosecutor is reviewing the ethical violations of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. It is important that the prosecutor assess the violations to determine whether criminal conduct has occurred and charges should be filed. If criminal charges are filed then a resignation should be demanded. Until then, we should let the process work and expect the decision of the Ethics Commission in terms of fine and amended reports to be fulfilled," Hutchinson said.
Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross went further in a statement of his own, directly calling for Darr's immediate resignation.
"Our elected officials must be held to the highest possible standard, and they must have the people's absolute trust and confidence in order to effectively do their jobs. Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr has admitted he improperly spent campaign and taxpayer dollars, and therefore he should act in the best interest of the state of Arkansas and resign immediately," Ross said.
Republican members of Arkansas' Congressional delegation, Sen. John Boozman, Reps. Rick Crawford (AR-1), Tim Griffin (AR-2), Steve Womack (AR-3), and Tom Cotton (AR-4), issued a joint statement Tuesday calling for the immediate resignation of Lt. Governor Mark Darr, saying:
"As elected officials, we are keepers of the public trust. We are bound by a very strict code of conduct that is the basis of that trust. Based on Lt. Governor Darr's own admissions, it is clear he has violated that trust, and he should step down immediately for the good of our state."
A spokesperson for Darr said Tuesday morning the lieutenant governor had no plans to quit.Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross also echoed in a statement that Darr should resign."Our elected officials must be held to the highest possible standard, and they must have the people's absolute trust and confidence in order to effectively do their jobs. Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr has admitted he improperly spent campaign and taxpayer dollars, and therefore he should act in the best interest of the state of Arkansas and resign immediately," Ross said.