- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jan. 12, 2014

Yes, it’s over at last!

Arkansas’ long statewide nightmare is over. Mark Darr has agreed to do the right thing, if shamefully late. For what had seemed like forever, he was twisting in the wind, and a whole state with him. The difference is that the whole state hadn’t chosen to inflict this punishment on itself. Mark Darr inflicted all this on himself, day by day and drip by drip, like some Arkie variation of the Chinese water torture.

For a time, the man’s capacity for masochism seemed indefinite, at least till his term would end a whole year from now. Or the Legislature got itself in gear and cut short his and Arkansas’ misery.

This wasn’t just a test of our lieutenant governor. It was a test of the Legislature’s ability to tell right from wrong, too, and then act on it. And cut this ordeal short for all concerned.

To adapt a phrase from the always quotable Edmund Burke, the only thing necessary for wrong to triumph is for good men to do nothing, which is what entirely too many legislators were doing all this time while Mark Darr kept collecting his salary-plus-expenses. And continued to disgrace the good name of Arkansas every day, every hour, he remained in the state’s second highest office. Which is no place to do a second-rate imitation of Richard Nixon refusing to leave the White House long after it had became all too clear he needed to go-and finally end the national nightmare called Watergate.

Or maybe the “Hon.” Mark Darr was taking his cue from Jim Guy Tucker, a disgraced chief executive right here in Arkansas who, at the last minute, decided he wanted to stay the state’s chief executive despite his having promised to resign. Talk about The Longest Day: The day Jim Guy Tucker tried to hold on to his office before finally, finally seeing reason had to be one of the longer ones in the state’s history.

Meanwhile, more and more members of our much put upon Legislature and candidates therefor were joining the lengthening list asking Mark Darr to clear out and get them off the spot.

The state’s governor and entire congressional delegation had called for the man to quit. They were joined last week by three candidates for Congress in the Fourth District-banker French Hill, former North Little Rock mayor Pat Hays, and Ann Clemmer, a state rep from Benton.

Mr. Hill may have put the case for No More Mark Darr in the most reasonable way, noting that our lieutenant governor - by his own admission - hadn’t met the standards of ethics or just simple accountability demanded by his high office. And he added:

“Our legislative leaders appear headed for an impeachment proceeding. Our small state should not have to endure the emotional, reputational or financial cost of an impeachment proceeding. Mr. Darr should spare us this pain by his prompt resignation.”

The prompter, the better. Mr. Darr had already dilly-dallied all too painfully long. For this was one of those sad actions that, if it be done, needed be done quickly-instead of being dragged out forever.

Pat Hays, in his call for Mark Darr to resign at last, noted the conclusive findings of both the state’s ethics commission and its legislative auditors. The lieutenant governor himself didn’t challenge the findings, agreeing to pay $11,000 in fines for violating state laws and/or regulations-the largest fine the ethics commission has levied against an elected state official in its history. If that wasn’t gross misconduct, which is one ground for impeachment, nothing is.

Mark Darr brings to mind the defendant who agrees he’s guilty but then is tempted to wiggle out of the punishment in full.

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