Three weeks after an ethics panel ruled he misspent thousands in taxpayer funds and violated nearly a dozen state laws, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has resigned effective Feb. 1.
Darr, who has held the post since January 2011, announced the decision at 6:30 p.m. Friday in a statement from his office.
Several officials, including Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and all five Republican members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation, candidates for statewide office and state legislators have called for the lieutenant governor to resign after Darr acknowledged 11 violations of state ethics laws and regulations.
In a written statement Tuesday, released before a round of media interviews, Darr called the violations "an oversight" and said he had “put a stake in the ground” by not resigning from the post, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
“Not for this office, not for the title or the job, but I put a stake in the ground for those Arkansans who are sick and tired of these type of political games and the people who play them,” Darr said. “It would be an immediate fix to tuck tail and run, but I would regret it for years to come.”
Following Darr's statement Tuesday, House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, issued a statement that he would consider appointing an adhoc committee to make procedural recommendations to the House Rules Committee if 51 of the House’s members decide to pursue impeachment.
Several Democratic and Republican state legislators have said they would pursue the impeachment process if Darr didn't step down by the Feb. 10 start of the fiscal session.
No one has ever been impeached in Arkansas under the current constitution, written in 1874, Carter said.
Darr on Dec. 30 agreed to pay an $11,000 fine in 30 days, a requirement in the panel's settlement offer, and wrote in a two-page letter that he didn’t believe he ever “intentionally took money that was not owed to” him.
Read Saturday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.
Michael Wickline contributed to this story.