S.C. Lt. Gov. Ken Ard may have perjured himself by submitting fraudulent information to the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SEC) and then lying about it, a source close to the S.C. Attorney General’s office tells FITS.
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson launched a preliminary investigation into Ard’s campaign finance violations earlier this week. Wilson’s inquiry was announced just days after the SEC imposed more than $60,000 in penalties against Ard for committing more than 100 campaign finance violations.
Busted in January by The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times, Ard basically confessed to spending tens of thousands of campaign dollars on personal items.
“I’ve got a vast amount of my personal wealth tied up in this campaign and I’m just trying to recoup as much of that as I can,” Ard told Free Times reporter Corey Hutchins.
After The Free Times story was published, though, Ard told the Associated Press that he had “no idea” where Hutchins got that quote. Days later, Hutchins released an audiotape of his interview with Ard that confirmed the accuracy of the statement.
Apparently, Hutchins wasn’t the only person Ard was lying to …
An SEC report released last week showed that Ard’s illegal use of campaign funds for personal purposes was much more flagrant than originally suspected. The report also showed that Ard provided false information to investigators – fabricating an official “economic development” pretense for a family vacation to Washington, D.C. and concocting a story about buying his wife an inaugural gown.
Assuming there is evidence that a crime took place, Wilson would call on the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to launch a formal investigation into Ard.
“I don’t see any way this ends well for (Ard),” a GOP source tells FITS, pointing out that Wilson would be risking serious legal trouble himself in the event he overlooks compelling evidence of a crime.
Democrats have called on Ard to resign – and so have we.
“Ard not only broke state ethics law – which is forgivable – but he repeatedly lied about it in an effort to evade responsibility for his actions,” we wrote earlier this week. “For that, he owes the people of South Carolina an apology – and his letter of resignation.”
Even Ard’s hometown paper – The Florence Morning News – has weighed in against the “Lite Gov,” although its editorial board stopped short of calling for him to step down.
“The ethics commission’s final report shows the Pamplico-bred lieutenant governor guilty of two large-scale mistakes,” the paper’s editorial board wrote this week. “First, he spent campaign money on personal expenses. Secondly, he was less than honest when questioned about the expenditures.”
According to Ard’s attorneys, he never directly spoke with investigators – although that excuse isn’t likely to absolve him of responsibility for official documents that were filed on his behalf.
Also, one source tells FITS that any attempt by Ard’s attorneys to “fall on their swords” could result in them being disbarred.
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.