AUDIO: Ken Ard statements in court Friday (4:52)
Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper sentenced him to five years probation, $5,000 and 300 hours of public service.
A state grand jury had previously indicted Ard on seven counts of violating the State Ethics Act.
Ard admitted illegally funnelling at least $75,000 in his personal money to others and ultimately back to himself. According to the indictment, he then reported reported the money as individual contributions in an attempt to deceive the public into thinking he had better financial support than actually existed.
“(This) creates the false appearance of of a groundswell of political support through fictitious or bogus campaign contributions,” state Attorney General Alan Wilson told reporters in a brief press conference. “The donations to Mr. Ard’s campaign were not a genuine demonstration of financial support.”
The official release from the Attorney General’s office:
As a result of a comprehensive investigation that began last July when this office requested this case from the State Ethics Commission, the State Grand Jury, acting pursuant to its public corruption authority, returned, today, an indictment charging James Kenneth Ard with seven counts of violating the State Ethics Act.
In summary, the State Grand Jury charges Mr. Ard with a scheme, developed as part of his candidacy for Lt. Governor, to create the false appearance of a groundswell of political support through fictitious or bogus campaign contributions. These donations to Mr. Ard’s campaign were not a genuine demonstration of financial support. Instead, they represented cash in the amount of $75,000 which was funneled from Mr. Ard to others and ultimately back to his campaign as purported contributions from citizens in the community.
The State Grand Jury also charges that phantom contributions in the amount of approximately $87,500 were a part of Mr. Ard’s scheme. Such contributions were either not made at all by the person listed or were not made in the amount reported.
The funneled, as well as the phantom contributions, were certified to the State Ethics Commission and reported to the public at large as true and correct. They were not true and correct. Campaign transparency was in reality campaign deceit.
Mr. Ard is charged with four counts of unlawful reimbursement of campaign contributions; two counts of falsely filing campaign reports; and one count encompassing multiple acts of personal use of campaign funds. The State Grand Jury charges invoke Sections 8-13-1344(D), 8-13-1308 and 8-13-1438 of the State Ethics Act. All seven counts are punishable pursuant to Section 8-13-1520 and constitute misdemeanor offenses. Upon conviction, each offense carries a penalty of up to $5,000 in fines and/or up to one year in prison. Read report of the State Grand Jury