Darr to follow ‘formal protocols’ in resigning, his office says

LITTLE ROCK — Lt. Gov. Mark Darr will follow “formal protocols” in making his resignation official, his office said Tuesday.

Darr issued a statement Friday announcing his resignation, effective Feb. 1, after drawing ethics sanctions for misuse of campaign funds and taxpayer dollars. He said then he was submitting his resignation “to the people of Arkansas, not an elected official,” which left open the question of whether his resignation would be official.

His office said in a statement Tuesday that Darr “will comply with all formal protocols concerning his departure from office by Feb. 1, 2014.”

Darr announced his resignation within two weeks of being fined $11,000 by the state Ethics Commission for 11 violations of state ethics and campaign finance laws. Darr has attributed the violations to unintentional errors but said last week he was resigning to spare his family from the “toxic business” of politics.

Questions remain regarding the legally required process when a lieutenant governor leaves office early. Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, has said the governor’s office is looking into whether the governor is required to declare a vacancy, which under state law apparently would then require a special election to be held within 150 days.

The leaders of the House and Senate have said that if a special election is required, they would support changing the law during next month’s fiscal session to allow the office to remain vacant until the November election. DeCample said Monday that Beebe is open to considering the idea.

Darr was acting governor Tuesday while Beebe was in Washington for an executive committee meeting of the National Governors Association. A spokeswoman for the lieutenant governor responded to a query about Darr’s activities by saying that he was “not in the office.”

Last February, Darr irked Beebe by signing a bill into law while Beebe was in Washington. The bill, which Beebe opposed but planned to allow to become law without his signature, exempted the names of people with permits to carry concealed handguns from the state Freedom of Information Act.