An investigative agency has released specific information about more than 100 ethics charges against South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard.
The State Ethics Commission detailed the charges in a notice of hearing released Friday, saying it has probable cause for 106 counts of improper use of campaign funds and failure to disclose spending. The charges mostly stem from purchases Ard made after his election in November but before he took office in January. They include about $800 for gas and more than $6,000 dollars in meals.
However, some of the more notable purchases include plane tickets for a family Christmas trip to Washington and tickets for a University of South Carolina football game. Ard also recorded that he spent $3,050 to buy computer equipment.
The notice said Ard improperly used campaign funds for personal use 82 times and failed to report 23 purchases he made. Most of the counts occurred after his election, but there are a handful dated prior to Election Day. The charges would not remove him from office, but he would have to pay $2,000 for each violation that is upheld.
Campaign law dictates that candidates are allowed to pay for ordinary expenses stemming from their role in office after their election. For example, Gov. Nikki Haley also used campaign money for trips to Washington in December to attend meetings with other governors. Legislators say they often use campaign funds to pay for office equipment or transportation costs. It’s unclear if any of Ard’s expenses would be permitted under the law, however.
The Commission had no further comment, other than to say a hearing would be scheduled over the summer. Ard’s lawyer has not spoken with reporters since the notice was released. A Republican Party official said the lieutenant governor is cooperating with the Commission.