After weeks of pressure from members of both political parties since acknowledging ethics violations, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr announced his resignation Friday night.
In a written statement, Darr wrote:
It is my great honor to be the Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas. This office has allowed me to meet so many wonderful Arkansans over the past few years. My family and I are forever grateful for the support the people of this great state have shown us for the past few years and during this extremely difficult time. We have learned that difficult days demand decisions of faith.
Throughout this process, it has been my desire to share the facts, and I feel this has been accomplished. I have been honest, forthright and acted with integrity. I made mistakes, but not one with malicious intent.
Effective February 1, 2014 I will resign as Lieutenant Governor and I submit that resignation to the people of Arkansas, not an elected official. I have spoken with Speaker Carter and Senate Pro-Tempore Lamoureux to notify them of this decision. They agree with me it is in the best interest for me, my family and the state at this point. I respect these two men for their concern: not just for the state but for me and my family.
Politics can be a toxic business. I will no longer subject my family to its hard lessons. All my forgiveness to those who play the games and all my respect and appreciation to those who serve with class and humility.
Gov. Mike Beebe and all six members of Arkansas's Congressional Delegation had said Darr, a Republican from Springdale, should resign. GOP leaders in the Arkansas Legislature had also this week said Darr's impeachment was inevitable if he didn't resign.
Darr agreed to pay an $11,000 fine last week, following a hearing last month by the Arkansas Ethics Commission at which Darr appologized for 11 violations.
He acknowledged improperly using more than $31,000 in campaign money, receiving more than $3,500 in improper travel reimbursements and using his state-issued credit card for more than $3,500 in personal purchases.
Darr had vowed as recently as Wednesday not to resign, blaming mistakes and paperwork errors, but pressure had grown from within his own party to step down.
A special election will likely have to be called to fill his seat.
After the announcement, Vince Insalaco, chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, released a statement:
In light of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s recent ethics violations, his resignation is the right thing to do for the state of Arkansas. Arkansans hold their elected officials to a standard of transparency and ethical behavior and when an official repeatedly breaks that trust, Arkansans expect them to take responsibility. The Democratic Party of Arkansas is relieved that Mr. Darr did not put the people of Arkansas and the state legislature through the impeachment process.