April 19, 2015

Former Charleston senator accused of new campaign violations

Sen. Robert Ford (black jacket) listens during an Ethics Committee hearing last May (Image: SCETV)

Sen. Robert Ford (black jacket) listens during an Ethics Committee hearing last May (Image: SCETV)

The S.C. Senate Ethics Committee said Friday it has found probable cause that former state Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, may have committed several ethics violations in 2013 — including after he resigned from office in May 2013.

Ford cited health reasons after stepping down, but it came a day after the Senate Ethics Committee questioned what they called inappropriate spending on his campaign reports, including gym memberships, a home improvement loan, and even items bought from a sex shop. Ford claimed at the time that those purchases were either “gag” gifts for staff or help for constituents.

The new complaint claims that Ford used campaign money for personal use and misreported campaign expenses during his quarterly reports on July 10 and October 10, 2013. Ethics staffers would not provide any additional information or specifics about the allegations.

The Ethics Committee will hold a hearing at a later date. Ford’s attorney has 15 days to respond to the claims. When contacted, Ford’s attorney William Runyon said he had gotten the complaint on Thursday and needed time to review it before he could comment.

The State Law Enforcement Division is still investigating the previous case.