S.C. Lt. Gov. Ken Ard‘s campaign finance problems just jumped to a higher energy level …

Earlier this week, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson‘s office announced that it has “requested the file” on the Ard investigation from the S.C. State Ethics Commission – which recently settled with the ethically-challenged “Lite Gov” on more than 100 campaign finance and reporting violations.

That means Wilson’s office is reviewing the materials to determine if there is any basis for a criminal investigation.

Good … not only did Ard flagrantly violation South Carolina campaign finance law by blowing thousands of dollars on personal expenses (personal clothing, a family vacation, a PlayStation, an iPod, a flat-screen TV, his wife’s cell phone bill, etc.), but he flat out lied to the public when he got caught.

He also lied to ethics investigators – manufacturing an official pretense for a family trip to Washington, D.C. and concocting a story about purchasing his wife a dress for the state’s inaugural festivities.

Those lies are what led us to call on Ard to step down – well, that and the fact that the true extent of the violations was much worse than anyone originally thought.

Ard absolutely should be investigated further – and we hope that Wilson’s office will resist the urge to sweep this scandal under the rug.

Last week, Ard agreed to pay a $48,400 fine and reimburse his campaign in the amount of $13,700. That slap on the wrist (par for the course in South Carolina) was greeted with revulsion by Democrats and Republicans alike.

S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian immediately called on Ard to step down, while a Republican group that has been critical of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley weighed in – encouraging the Attorney General to investigate.

Assuming Wilson’s office finds sufficient evidence to justify a formal criminal  investigation, it would turn the matter over to the S.C State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

Ard isn’t the only South Carolina Republican facing campaign finance problems. Newly-elected S.C. Ways and Means Chairman Brian White has a similar problem – while Haley has habitually refused to disclose the occupation of the vast majority of her donors as required by state law.