An audit of the office of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr (R) found that the state’s highest ranking Republican apparently misspent more than $12,000 in office funds for personal or undocumented expenses.
The Legislative Audit Committee conducted its annual audit of the office and found a number of questionable expenses, some of which had already been addressed by Darr.
The report noted:
• The Lieutenant Governor charged $2,339 on a state credit card for personal expenses. Of this amount, the Lieutenant Governor has reimbursed $1,202 to the State. Although the Lieutenant Governor submitted a copy of a check dated July 1, 2012, for $1,137 to reimburse the State, a credit for this amount could not be located on the credit card statements. Personal expenses of $1,137 have not been reimbursed as of the date of this report.
• Based on a review of travel expenses from January 2011 through September 2013, [the following] transactions totaling $9,836 appear to violate state travel regulations. Of this amount, $9,298 was not reported as income on the Lieutenant Governor’s IRS Form W-2.
• Unallowed uses of state funds – $205 for lodging within the official station. According to credit card receipts, the Lieutenant Governor paid for lodging in Little Rock with state funds on two occasions, although regulations do not allow for payment of lodging expense within the official station.
• Supporting documentation for expenditures of $2,755 was not maintained, based on review of travel reimbursement forms and state travel card statements.
The report concluded that Darr should pay nearly $10,000 back to the office.
“The Lieutenant Governor should reimburse the State $9,836 for excess travel reimbursements and expenses. In addition, the Lieutenant Governor should comply with, and obtain staff training in, all applicable state laws and regulations and follow IRS regulations for reporting taxable fringe benefits,” the report stated.
Darr provided a written response to the audit report, claiming that he had not been cited for errors previously and he seemed to blame the office of State Auditor Charlie Daniels for not stopping errors from occurring.
“[H]aving served in office for almost three years with no findings related to travel reimbursement, we had no reason to believe we were not doing things properly,” Darr said. “The Arkansas State Auditor’s Office is in charge of reviewing and paying all travel reimbursement requests and office expenses. If at any time the Auditor’s Office had a question in regards to a travel reimbursement form, or any other office expense, we promptly provided the necessary documentation. I acknowledge the errors I have committed, and I am endeavoring to make full restitution.”
The report was forwarded to Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley for review of possible criminal violations.
Earlier this year, Darr had announced for the Fourth Congressional District race. He withdrew after reports of misspending of office funds and campaign funds were reported by the Blue Hog Report blog.
An ethics investigation of Darr’s campaign finances is still underway.