S.C. Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) has been accused of taking thousands of dollars in campaign funds and depositing the money into his personal bank account – which would constitute illegal “co-mingling.”
How much money? Perhaps as much as $20,000 over the last few years.
According to documents unearthed by the S.C. Senate Ethics Committee – which is holding a hearing into Ford’s alleged campaign irregularities – the veteran Democratic lawmaker has written checks ranging from $50 to $1,000 to himself from his campaign account without providing any rationale for the payments. Ford is also accused of using campaign funds to pay for personal expenditures – like his gym membership.
It gets worse, though … one of the improper personal expenditures was allegedly for porn.
Earlier this month, Senate staffers accused Ford of illegally falsifying his campaign finance records as part of a deliberate effort to deceive investigators and evade accountability for his actions. If true, that could be a much more serious charge …
Other violations alleged to have been committed by Ford include failing to report contributions, failing to report loans and misrepresenting the amount of certain expenditures.
Shoddy bookkeeping on the part of elected officials is nothing new in South Carolina. In 2010, former S.C. Sen. Jakie Knotts (RINO-Lexington) received a “reprimand” from the same Senate committee after he was found guilty of a similar array of abuses – including improper “co-mingling.” In addition to the reprimand, Knotts was ordered to return the excess contributions, submit revised campaign finance reports and generally do a better job keeping track of his campaign funds in the future.
Ethics advocates were irate …
Will Ford receive a similar slap on the wrist? Or will the Obama-loving “Republicans” who run this committee drop the hammer on him?
We’ll see … either way, lawmakers policing themselves is no way to ensure accountability, even in those instances in which the system “works.” Ford should be investigated by an independent agency empowered with the ability to impose sweeping punishments – including removal from office.
Only then can our corrupt-as-hell state begin the process of restoring faith in our cesspool of a government …