DARR: Filling up on the taxpayer's dime.
The Legislative Joint Auditing
committee is meeting now at the Capitol reviewing the annual financial report on the office of Lieutenant Governor. Normally a routine event, it might prove explosive in light of lingering questions about Lt. Gov. Mark Darr
's reimbursements for campaign expenses, gas mileage and other matters. Darr is on hand to testify.
You can read the
The key findings: Darr misused $9,836 in taxpayer money on travel reimbursements, mostly gas mileage reimbursements for commutes from his home in Springdale to the Capitol (mileage from his residence to his office is not reimbursable). Legislative Audit concludes that this money should be reimbursed. Audit also found that Darr used a state credit card for $2,339 in personal expenses. Darr has paid back $1,202 to the state and submitted a copy of a check for the remainder, but a credit for that amount could not be identified on the card statement, meaning $1,137 was still outstanding at the time of the Audit report.
Darr's official response, included in the report, states that he was unaware of the relevant provisions in the law and says, "I have acknowledged the errors I have committed, and I am endeavoring to make full restitution." Legislative Audit submitted their report to the Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
According to Michael Cook of Talk Business, who was at the meeting, Darr received only a couple of "mild" questions from legislators.
Darr's other issues — evidence suggesting that he used campaign money for personal expenses and may have double-dipped, reimbursing himself twice for the same travel expenses with campaign money and taxpayer money — were outside the purview of this audit, but may come up at the Ethics Commission
hearing on Dec. 18. (That said, while Audit wasn't specifically looking at campaign funds, double-dipping was something they could
have checked on given that it would represent a major abuse of taxpayer money.)
One lingering question from the Audit report: Audit found that supporting documentation was not maintained for $2,755 in travel expenses, on top of the expenses described above. "Without adequate supporting documentation, DLA staff were unable to substantiate the business purpose of these expenditures," the report states. Oddly, though, there is no recommended course of action on these expenses. Does Darr need to produce supporting documentation? Pay the money back?
Democratic Party Chair Vincent Insalaco released the following statement:
Mark Darr’s blatant abuse of government resources is deplorable. Today’s report confirms that the Lt. Gov. has abused his office and state resources by nearly $10,000, which is nearly half of the average working Arkansan's income every year. The rules about using state funds for personal expenditures are clear and Darr clearly broke many of them. His record of irresponsibility is an embarrassment to our state and he should apologize to Arkansas for his transgressions.