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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Giant Killer Takes On Arkansas Lottery Director for Refusing To Conduct Audit

Dr. Bill Smith (Ozark Guru): With the pending change in Lt Governor in Arkansas, the present Lottery Director has a vested interest. It was the current and outgoing Lt. Governor Bill Halter who rose to power in Arkansas after being funded by out-of-state gambling and pornography interests. Then as Lt. Governor, Halter submitted a proposed lottery bill to the Arkansas legislature which was rebuffed by even his fellow democrats.

Underwritten by gambling interests, Halter then opted to force the issue in a manner not done in the past. As an Arkansas constitutional officer, he introduced a Constitutional Amendment to establish a State run lottery using the deception that the lottery would fund scholarships. He never mentioned the cost of running the Lottery, the personal loss to many people, or the potential corruption experienced with lotteries in other states. The out-of-state sources funded Halter's efforts to collect signatures to get the amendment on the ballot and then to pay the advertising costs to promote the lottery amendment. In the long run, these backers were themselves gambling on Halter being around longer in Arkansas politics.

However, Halter, a liberal's liberal elitist wanted to be Governor of Arkansas. But he found himself rebuffed in the state and his chances declining to run for governor. He also noticed an announced challenge by an Republican conservative who was not afraid of his large war chest. So, Halter "rolled the dice" and decided to run for U.S. Senate against the incumbent Democratic senator whose star is falling. But even with enormous funding from Halter's previous dubious financial supporters and unions, Halter was defeated for his own party's nomination.

Reflecting back to the "announced challenger."  Long before Halter's decision to run for US Senate, Halter appeared safe with no one opposing challenger to re-election as Lt. Governor. However, a lone conservative literally asked God to give him the strength of "David" as a "Giant killer" to bring down the most liberal incumbent in Little Rock. This "David" set his sights on Bill Halter when no one else would oppose Halter.  This "David" who was willing to take on the Giants was Mark Darr a jovial Christian "Mad" pizza business owner. He had a trusting spirit, a TEA Party heart and the gumption to be bold. Mark Darr boldly announced that he would run against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in 2010. He then started traveling the state sharing his call for greater government transparency and accountability in government.

While leading members of his own party, questioned taking on Halter. As detailed previously, Halter opted not to run again as Lt. Governor. After Halter's decision, another Republican candidate did opt to run against Mark Darr for Lt. Governor instead of for one of the other unopposed seats. But by then enough people had noted this new Giant killer, and Mark Darr won the GOP primary. It has been very clear as Mark Darr has crossed the state that he is willing to stand boldly for good government and to work with the elected Governor on seeking to expand jobs in the private sector.

Now, Mark Darr has responded to the Arkansas State Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue's refusal to conduct an audit to show that Arkansas revenue is being spent as it is supposed to be. Makes one wonder what Mr. Passailaigue is seeking to hide. By the way, Passailaigue's annual salary is $324,000. Passailaigue's is the third highest paid lottery director nationally.  His two VPs, Ernestine Middleton Middleton and David Barden, each will earn $225,000 a year and worked for Passailaigue at the South Carolina lottery. The lottery security chief, Lance Huey gets $115,644 a year; IT gaming director Mike Smith at $150,000; Mary VanLeer as IT infrastructure director, Julie Baldridge as Exec. Assist., Bridgette Frazier as Staff attorney and Bishop Woosley Procurement Director each gets $105,000; and the sales director Robert Stebbins $92,518.  Which totals $1,552,162 before benefits and or the cost of facilities, material costs, operational costs, advertising, office and communication costs, etc.

By comparison, the Arkansas Governor gets a $80,848 salary (yes he get to live in the mansion) which is less than 25% of what the Lottery Director makes and the Governor makes less than all of the key Lottery staff. And the Arkansas Lottery Director does not want an audit! Are you concerned with what Mr. Passailaigue is seeking to hide? Well Mark Darr is concerned!

Consider that Passailaigue's prime elected Little Rock supporter, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, is on the way out of office in six short months. Passailaigue's refusal directly contradicts the intent of the legislature, the conservative values of Arkansans and the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery website which clearly states "The Lottery will be operated with integrity and dignity in a manner that provides entertainment to the public, maximizes revenue and accounts to the public and General Assembly through regular reports and audits."

Mark Darr responded to the Lottery Directors unwillingness to provide transparency: "As Lieutenant Governor I will have a direct working relationship with the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery staff and I pledge to the citizens of Arkansas that I will fight passionately to ensure accountability and transparency. When I entered the Lieutenant Governor’s race I committed myself to fighting for these very values, which are desperately lacking in our state government. To this day I maintain that commitment because the future and prosperity of our great state is at stake."

Mark Darr could have stopped right there with that one statement. But because he places Arkansas first, he challenged his Democrat opponent for Lt Governor to join him "in fighting for the citizens of Arkansas as they deserve better than this." Arkansas voters would do very well to elect as Lt. Governor this "Giant killer" who will take on wasteful government spending and the lack of transparency and accountability.  And with his experience, Mark Darr will be a natural at supporting job creation and defending small business in Arkansas.
About Mark: Mark Darr is a lifelong resident of Arkansas and is a graduate of Mansfield High School in Mansfield and Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. Mark is an experienced businessman er who knows what it means to creat jobs and sign the front of a paycheck. He is a licensed insurance agent and is the owner of MAD Pizza Company in Rogers. Mark and his wife Kim and two children live in Springdale Arkansas where they are active members of First Baptist Church of Springdale.

Tags: Bill Halter, Mark Darr, Lieutenant Governor, Lottery audit, transparency, accountability, Arkansas, Ernie Passailaigue, Lottery Director To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 8:12 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Dawn Harpell said...

"Go Mark!"

Anonymous Mark Darr said...

Thanks Bill. Nice words. I think that everyone should be willing or at least want our government to be accountable to it's citizens.


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