April 16, 2014

Charleston senator accused of “numerous” ethics violations

A state legislator who represents Charleston in the Senate is accused of improperly using campaign funds for his personal expenses and not reporting other contributions he received.

Sen. Robert Ford (File)

Sen. Robert Ford (File)

The Senate Ethics Committee released the allegations against Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) Wednesday, saying they had found probable cause to support those accusations. Under Senate rules, the finding means the committee must now make the complaint public.

The committee’s complaint has very few specifics, but states Ford improperly converted his campaign funds, then misrepresented the amounts on Campaign Disclosure Reports he is required to submit. The complaint noted that the disclosure reports did not match Ford’s banking statements.

He is also accused of misrepresenting certain personal expenditures to make them appear as if they were campaign-related. The complaint also says Ford is accused of not reporting “numerous contributions” from individuals and entities on his disclosure reports.

The committee, which consists of five Republicans and five Democrats, said a formal hearing will be held at a later date. Ford has 15 days to respond, along with the right to call and examine witnesses and evidence at the hearing. The committee will then decide whether Ford should receive a public reprimand, financial penalty, expulsion, or even if a criminal investigation is necessary.

A spokesman for Senate Democrats said Ford would not be commenting at this time. Ford has represented much of the upper Charleston peninsula and North Charleston in the Senate since 1993.