SC Lieut. Gov. Resigns, Pleads Guilty To Campaign Finance 'Scheme'
The Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina resigned today and pled guilty to seven counts of ethics violations in connection with his 2010 election. Candidates in South Carolina are welcome to spend as much personal money as they want on their campaigns. But they can't funnel the money through donors to make themselves look more popular. This afternoon Republican Ken Ard pled guilty to doing just that in what South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson calls a scheme "to create the false appearance of a groundswell of public support through fictitious or bogus campaign contributions." An indictment from the state grand jury says Ard gave $75,000 of his own to a handful of supporters who immediately wrote checks back to the Ard campaign in the same amount. The grand jury also alleges Ard overstated other campaign donations to the tune of $87,000 in order to make him seem like a more successful candidate. And, the grand jury says Ard spent thousands of campaign dollars on personal expenses like electronics, clothes and vacations. Hours before the indictment was handed up today, Ard resigned as lieutenant governor. In a written statement, he apologized for being a "distraction" to the state and said he did not "make sure things were done correctly" during his campaign. "There are no excuses nor is there need to share blame. It is my fault," reads the statement. This afternoon, Ard pled guilty to all seven counts. He faces up to $5,000 in fines and a year in prison for each.