This week, things have gone from bad to worse for Lt. Governor Mark Darr.
Last week, Darr abandoned his Congressional bid due to his improper usage of campaign funds for personal purposes. This week, new allegations surfaced that leads one to reasonably argue that Mark Darr absconded with Arkansas taxpayers’ money.
Today the Blue Hog Report released a new story that can best be described as a political calamity for the Lt. Governor.
BHR went through both Darr’s campaign reports and the official reimbursements Darr submitted to the state through his elective office, paying particular attention to his mileage and gas purchases.
What BHR discovered was that when Lt. Governor Darr drove his personal vehicle he would submit mileage to the state to be reimbursed with taxpayer dollars, but then simultaneously have his campaign pay for the gas for the exact same trip.
If this is true, then Mark Darr was double-dipping with taxpayers’ money.
Imagine using your company’s business card to fill up your tank for a business trip, but then turning around and submitting the full mileage for the same trip. Your boss would likely not be pleased. Your employer would say it’s either a tank of gas or mileage, but not both. You don’t get to double-dip.
Actually, what Darr did is more akin to this: You have two part-time jobs. You take a business trip for one company and use that company’s credit card to fill up your tank. You then turn around and submit mileage to your other part-time job for taking that trip that had nothing to do with that company. Either way, you get to pocket the cash.
Here are just two of many examples of Darr’s double-dipping cited by Blue Hog Report:
On May 16 and 17, 2011, Darr traveled from Little Rock to Fort Smith and back and was reimbursed for the 320 miles ($134.40) on the trip. On the way, there was a “fundraiser” for $132.12 at the 7-Up Kwik Stop in Ola, AR, that his campaign paid for.
On June 7, 2011, Darr claimed 426 miles ($178.92) for reimbursement based on a trip from Little Rock to Rogers and back. On June 7, 2011, there was a “fundraiser” at Love’s Country Store in Ozark, AR, for $120.06.
Click here for the Blue Hog Report story.
If Darr had his campaign fill up his gas tank but then had taxpayers reimburse him for the exact same trip, it raises another question that must be answered: Were these actually political trips that he had taxpayers foot the mileage for? Using government funds for political purposes is against the law.
The silence from Arkansas Republicans on this issue is louder than a Led Zeppelin concert circa 1974. Last month on Twitter and right-wing blogs, Republican politicos and office-holders denounced Paul Bookout for his unethical lapses. For Mark Darr? Nothing.
Paul Bookout’s actions were inexcusable and he had to resign. No one can reasonably defend him for using campaign funds for such blatant and ostentatious personal expenditures.
However for all the wrong that Bookout did, and there was plenty, his transgressions involved campaign funds. Mark Darr’s potential transgressions involve taxpayer money.
I have reached out to Lt. Governor Darr’s office for comment, but as of yet we have not heard back. If we do, we’ll post his comments in their entirety.
Mark Darr must fully explain why he had taxpayers reimburse him on these various trips. Mark Darr has some serious explaining to do.