STATE HOUSE: Embattled ex-Sen. Robert Ford faces new allegations

Posted by JAMIE SELF on January 24, 2014 

Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston

FILE/MARY ANN CHASTAIN — AP

The Senate Ethics Committee has filed another complaint against former Sen. Robert Ford, a Charleston Democrat who resigned in May after he was accused of misusing campaign money.

The new complaint, filed Thursday and announced Friday, alleges that Ford used campaign money for personal use and misreported campaign expenses.

The alleged offenses occurred in the second and third quarters of 2013, reported on the campaign finance reports due to the S.C. Ethics Commission on July 10 and October 10.

"Every allegation they've made against me today and in the past has been totally ridiculous," Ford said Friday.

He said the ethics committee took issue with money he spent on birthday cards and brochures he had printed for constituents.

The Ethics Committee will hold a hearing, according to the complaint. No date was released.

Ford resigned in May during a two-day Senate Ethics Committee hearing on a previous complaint alleging that he used campaign money to pay for personal expenses, including purchasing items at a sex shop and paying a car payment.

The committee referred the matter to the Attorney General who referred the matter to SLED for investigation. That matter is pending.

Ethics Chairman Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Horry, said that the Ethics Committee has not scheduled a hearing yet.

Asked why the committee did not refer their findings to the Attorney General or SLED, Rankin said it's the committee's responsibility to investigate.

The new complaint, he said, "involves a new matter, and we want to follow protocol, follow the rules and certainly that ability to refer to the Attorney General is within our ability."

In the first complaint against Ford, he was accused of spending campaign money on personal expenses, reporting campaign expenses inaccurately, intentionally altering personal expenses to make them appear related to his campaign, making numerous cash withdrawals exceeding $100, and failing to report campaign contributions, loans and loan repayments.

Among the transactions by Ford were payments for a hospital visit, items at adult stores and an auto loan, which Ford reported as going to a homeless veterans’ cause.

The most recent complaint is related to transactions from his campaign account in the months before and after his resignation.

Ford maintains that he has never spent campaign money on himself, and instead spent money to show appreciation for his constituents and campaign workers.

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