LITTLE ROCK — Lt. Gov. Mark Darr on Monday signed a settlement with the state Ethics Commission agreeing to pay $11,000 in fines for 11 separate violations of state campaign finance and disclosure laws.
Darr admitted to using contributions to his 2010 campaign for personal use, accepting contributions in excess of legal limits, receiving state travel reimbursements for which he was not entitled and inadequately maintaining records.
In a letter to the commission, Darr apologized to the people of Arkansas but said it would be wrong to infer that his "mistakes" were willful.
"I don’t wish to minimize the seriousness of the mistakes I have made in campaign record-keeping and campaign disclosure. However, I think it is fair to distinguish between these mistakes and intentionally taking money that was not mine," he wrote. "I do not believe I ever intentionally took money that was not owed to me."
In investigating a complaint filed against Darr by liberal blogger Matt Campbell, the Ethics Commission found evidence that the lieutenant governor violated 11 ethics laws and improperly spent more than $44,000 in campaign contributions and office funds.
The commission staff also found evidence that Darr had collected $3,500 in taxpayer dollars as improper travel reimbursements, improperly made $3,500 worth of personal expenditures with his state-issued credit card, improperly made $31,500 worth of personal expenditures with campaign contributions and collected $6,000 in campaign contributions that exceeded individual limits.
Earlier this year, longtime Democratic legislator Paul Bookout was cited by the Ethics Commission for converting campaign money to personal use and paid an $8,000 fine. Bookout resigned from the state Senate within days after the the commission’s final ruling in his case.
Darr, a Republican, dropped out of the GOP primary in the 4th District congressional race after his ethics problems came to light. He has said he will not resign from office but has not said whether he will run for re-election in 2014.