COLUMBIA, SC — The Senate Ethics Committee has filed another complaint against former state Sen. Robert Ford, a Charleston Democrat who resigned in May after he was accused of misusing campaign money.
The new complaint, filed Thursday, alleges Ford continued to spend campaign money on personal items and misreport his campaign expenses after he left the Senate.
The alleged offenses occurred in the second and third quarters of 2013, reported on campaign finance reports to the S.C. Ethics Commission in July and October.
“Every allegation they’ve made against me today and in the past has been totally ridiculous,” Ford said Friday.
Ford said the Ethics Committee took issue with money he spent on birthday cards and brochures that he had printed for constituents. Some of the purchases were made after Ford resigned on May 31.
After Ford resigned, the Senate Ethics Committee referred the initial allegations against the longtime Charleston senator to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson for review. Wilson then referred the matter to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division for it to investigate whether any laws were broken, an investigation that is ongoing.
The Ethics Committee will hold a hearing on the new allegations in open session, according to the complaint. The date for that hearing has not been set, said Senate Ethics chairman Luke Rankin, R-Horry.
Ford resigned in May, during a two-day Senate Ethics Committee hearing into previous allegations that he broke ethics rules by using campaign money to pay for personal expenses, including buying items at a sex shop and making a car payment.
Asked why the committee did not refer the new allegations to the attorney general or SLED, Rankin said it is the committee’s responsibility to investigate. The new complaint, Rankin 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.”
The most recent complaint is related to transactions from Ford’s campaign account in the months before and after his resignation.
Ford maintains he has never spent campaign money on himself. Instead, he says, he spent money to show appreciation to his constituents and campaign workers.
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