When last we left Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, we were neck deep in what appeared to be repeated improper uses of campaign funds for personal expenses.
I ended that post by suggesting that Part 2 was forthcoming. That was not a lie; there will still be a Part 2.
This, however, is not Part 2, at least not as I originally envisioned it. But a new development in this whole thing warrants its own post, rather than an update to Part 1. So consider this Part 1.5 if you are the type who simply must classify these things.
ANYWAY . . . yesterday, after the first post went up, I contacted the University of Arkansas regarding the $1,500.00 for “Fundraiser” that showed up on Darr’s October 12, 2011 CC&E:
My suspicion, given the recipient of the money, the lack of any funds actually raised that could be tied to that expenditure, and the date of the expenditure, was that this was less “fundraiser” and more “burying the cost of Razorback football tickets in my campaign expenditures and assuming no one would notice.”
Initially, there was some confusion from my FOIA request, and the person I contacted at U of A, seemingly unable to find any documentation of this fundraiser, asked whether I was sure the Fayetteville campus, rather than a different campus, had received the cash. I passed along the CC&E in question and suggested that the money might have been for football tickets rather than fundraising.
To quote The Last Dragon, “Sho’nuff!”
According to records provided by the U of A, on 8/31/11, Mark Darr purchased four tickets at $255 each for a game in Fayetteville and four tickets at $120 each for a game in Little Rock. For those disinclined to do math, that works out to — say, look at that! — $1500.00. UPDATE: A reader familiar with U of A ticket pricing pointed out that, based on 2010-2011 ticket prices, this wasn’t a purchase of one game in Fayetteville and one game in Little Rock; this was a purchase for four season tickets. Because, if you’re gonna be a pizza, be a supreme pizza.
(click to enlarge)
But maybe there are other records that would show a fundraiser, and the amounts are just coincidentally the same? Nope. From the responsive email that contained these records:
Attached are the only responsive records the university has pertaining to your request.
Were someone looking to really pile on, they might further note that the records also show that Darr used his elected title and office at the Capitol for purposes of this order. Since state computers and phones are not to be used for political activity, if he really was trying to set up a fundraiser in this way…that would be problematic.
So, to recap: Mark Darr, in a year when he was barred from any fundraising aside from the retirement of campaign debt, paid for four season tickets to Arkansas football games out of campaign funds under the guise of “fundraiser.” For a guy whose biggest (read: only) accomplishment to date is being the most vocal supporter of act that would create transparency.arkansas.gov, this is deliciously ironic.
Oh, also, could someone make sure that Mr. Darr sees this? I have apparently been blocked from following his Twitter feed.
And here I thought we shared an appreciation for government transparency.