POLITICS: Campaigns

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr drops out of race for Congress

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Associated Press,Arkansas,2014 Elections,Campaigns

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr said Thursday that he's dropping out of the race for a seat in Congress representing south Arkansas amid ethics questions over his campaign finance reports.

Darr entered the race for the 4th Congressional District earlier this month after incumbent Tom Cotton announced plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.

"After careful thought and deliberation I will not be seeking the 4th District position in the United States Congress," Darr said Thursday. "I feel that my priority needs to be focused on my family and sometimes trying to achieve titles gets in the way of that."

Darr faces questions over reporting hundreds of dollars spent at restaurants and gas stations as fundraising expenses shortly after taking office. Darr has filed an ethics complaint against himself and has said he plans to amend his campaign finance reports to classify the spending as repayment of debts his campaign owed him.

State House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman and Hot Springs businessman Tommy Moll are seeking the Republican nomination for the seat, while Hot Springs community college instructor Janis Percefull is running for the Democratic nomination.

Darr reported the errors shortly after a website raised questions about the expenses that didn't appear to be related to raising money to pay off the loan he made for his successful 2010 bid for the lieutenant governor's office. Darr has said he was filing amended reports and was prepared to accept any penalties from the Arkansas Ethics Commission.

"As this was my first race for public office, the ins and outs of campaign finance reporting were new to both me and my campaign staff," Darr said in a prepared statement last week. "As such, there were some mistakes made, and I am working hard to correct each and every one of them."

Darr filed the complaint days after the Blue Hog Report, a Democrat-leaning blog, detailed hundreds of dollars Darr reported spending in campaign funds. It included $1,500 spent on Arkansas Razorbacks football tickets.

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