- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - All of the staffers in the office of former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr will step down in June because of Darr’s resignation, a top Arkansas lawmaker said Monday.

Senate President Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, said the four employees told him they would step aside effective June 30th. The news came almost one week after a state senator submitted legislation aimed at cutting the office’s staff until the November general election.

“I think they felt it was the right thing for them to do,” Lamoureux said. “They decided individually that (this) was best for them and best for the state of Arkansas.”

The staff will continue to work as before until their planned resignation and are all currently seeking employment, Lamoureux said. He added that it was the staffers’ idea to quit.

Sen. Bruce Maloch, a Democrat from Magnolia, had tried last week in a legislative subcommittee to include language in the lieutenant governor’s budget bill that would cut the amount the office could spend on salaries.

The office has a combined salary budget of $241,000. Maloch’s proposal would have decreased office funds for employee salaries down to $40,000 - an amount that would allow one person to continue working to manage the office, he said. The reduced funding level would have started July 1st and remained until the next lieutenant governor is elected. His proposal passed only to be erased a day later by the subcommittee, after Lamoureux asked the legislative panel to expunge the vote citing his absence from the meeting.

Maloch said the employees’ resignation surprised him but said he had heard before that the staff was searching for work. He was pleased to hear of their resignation, he said.

“I don’t think the office needs a staff when it doesn’t have an elected official in place,” Maloch said.

Darr, a Republican, resigned Feb. 1 under the threat of impeachment. The state Ethics Commission fined Darr $11,000 for violations tied to his office and campaign spending.

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