Westerman Says Impeachment 'Inevitable,' Darr Sees Political Motives

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 9:19 am  

The 100-member House has 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one member of the Green Party. Two Republicans have called on Darr to quit but haven't said whether they'd join Democrats in an impeachment vote.

The Senate has 21 Republicans and 13 Democrats, with one vacancy set to be filled next Tuesday.

The Ethics Commission last week said it found probable cause that Darr made personal use of $31,572.74 in campaign funds, received excess contributions to retire his campaign debt, didn't maintain adequate records, failed to itemize loan repayments and accepted improper reimbursement for travel expenses. A separate legislative audit last month cited more than $12,000 in improper expenses incurred by Darr's office.

Darr signed a letter Dec. 30 in which he agreed to pay $1,000 for each of 11 violations cited by the Ethics Commission. He also will reimburse the state for what was found in the legislative audit.

"It would be an immediate fix to tuck tail and run but I would regret it for years to come," Darr said in an emailed statement as he opened a round of interviews Tuesday. "I am a normal citizen, who ran for office, who is trying to do my job to the best of my ability with integrity and character."

Darr's refusal to leave office could overshadow GOP efforts in November to build on recent electoral victories, including its takeover of the state Legislature in the 2012 election. Questions about Darr have already undermined GOP efforts to tie Democrats to recent scandals, such as Democratic state Sen. Paul Bookout's resignation after being fined $8,000 by the Ethics Commission for spending campaign funds on personal items such as clothing and theater equipment.

The lieutenant governor's is a mostly ceremonial position whose duties include presiding over the state Senate and casting the rare tie-breaking vote in a 35-member chamber.

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