UPDATE: Darr Bows Out Of Congressional Bid Amid Ethical Questions
Lt. Governor Mark Darr says he will drop out of the race for the 4th district congressional seat, now occupied by Republican Tom Cotton.
Darr, a Republican, tells Talk Business Arkansas he "looks forward to serving out my current term as Lt. Governor” and that he wants to redirect focus on his family.
After careful thought and deliberation, I will not be seeking the Fourth District position in the United States Congress.
I feel that my priority needs to be focused on my family and sometimes trying to achieve titles gets in the way of that.
I look forward to serving out my current term as Lt. Governor and helping my friends get elected or re-elected should they desire my assistance.
I have made many friends across this state.. . young and old. .. Democrats and Republicans and for their unwavering support I am humbled.
The announcement comes after the Blue Hog Report blog raised questions about discrepancies in expenses detailed in Darr's campaign's finance reports.
Darr reported that his campaign spent hundreds of dollars at restaurants and gas stations, listing these expenses as fundraising efforts. In response to public scrutiny, he filed an ethics complaint against himself and is currently amending his campaign expense records.
Jay Barth, the Chair of the Politics Department at Hendrix College, said Darr's decision should be looked at in the context of a string of recent ethics issues for Arkansas officials.
"Mark Darr was someone for whom potential ethics violations came to the surface at a time where those issues are very sensitive in the Arkansas political environment because of the Bookout resignation, and although it's a very different case, the Martha Shoffner resignation. They created an environment where there's a tremendous amount of sensitivity about an ethics violation," said Barth.
Barth also noted the discovery of possible ethics violations is an example of the need for an empowered citizenry.
"I think one of the most interesting parts of this story is the fact that these forms that have these problematic filings have been sitting there for now two or three years. It really did take a citizen blogger to uncover some of those challenges. I think it does show in some ways the power of the internet and the power of rank and file citizens using this information in a way that has historically not been used by main stream media," said Barth.
Barth said the events leave a "black mark" on Darr but said it's too soon to know how this will effect his future. Roby Brock asked Darr about any future electoral plans.
Darr said, "I think over the next few weeks and months as things get resolved in my office and my campaign that I'll answer those questions."
House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman and businessman Tommy Moll remain the only other announced Republican candidates for the seat. Community college teacher Janis Purcefell is the only Democrat to have announced a run.