What is it with these guys?

Ard's abuse of the public trust calls role of No. 2 executive into question

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Mark Sanford just cheated on his wife. Ken Ard cheated on South Carolina.

Sanford, the former governor, was a national sensation for his personal breach. Much less attention will be paid to Ard, former lieutenant governor, who resigned just in time to avoid prison last Friday on charges he blatantly abused his campaign funds and the public trust.

Ard had already been fined $48,000 last July for misusing his campaign account for his personal gain, which is patently illegal. On Friday, after his plea that followed an indictment by a grand jury on seven counts of violating the state’s ethics act, a judge sentenced Ard to five years on probation, a $5,000 fine and 300 hours of community service.

If sentences could be enhanced for aggravated brazenness, he would’ve gotten hard time instead of Ard time. One of the highest-elected officials in the state, Ard spent campaign funds, notes the Los Angeles Times, on such things as “fuel, meals, hotel rooms, a PlayStation 3, women’s clothing for his wife, and tickets to the SEC football championship game in Atlanta.”

Not very long after being elected in November 2010, the newspaper writes, Ard took his wife and three children on a Christmas trip to Washington, D.C., charging it to his campaign account. He claimed he was meeting Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.

“When investigators called the senator’s office,” writes the Times, “they found that no such meeting had taken place. Graham, it turns out, was back in South Carolina for Christmas.”

Authorities also say Ard provided $75,000 to a group of people with instructions to donate it back to his campaign – to make it appear there was an outpouring of support for him when, as The Greenville News writes, “in reality this was essentially a self-funded campaign.”

According to The State newspaper in Columbia, “Ard’s five-man defense team said Ard had made unintentional ‘mistakes’ in handling his campaign finances.” Prosecutors rejected the notion they would prosecute a “mistake.”

That’s what happens when you have a five-man defense team. They tell you what you want to hear.

The truth, of course, is that Ard knew exactly what he was doing. He abused the public trust and slapped the face of anyone and everyone who contributed money to him in good faith.

Ard’s plea should act as a word of caution to any politician using his or her campaign fund for non-campaign fun.

It also, again, makes you wonder about the lieutenant governor job in South Carolina; an Ard predecessor had such a problem with the speed limit that an officer once drew a gun on him.

The state’s governor, it’s been said, has little more than the power of a game warden. While the lieutenant governor is president of the Senate and oversees the state office on aging, could not the position be better utilized?

And why shouldn’t the governor and lieutenant governor run on the same ticket? We agree with our friends at The Greenville News that such an arrangement would actually allow for candidates to be “vetted more thoroughly” than voters have a chance to do in the often-obscure lieutenant governor race.

One way or another, South Carolina either needs to get better lieutenant governor candidates or just find them some work!

Comments (19) Add comment
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Haki
31
Points
Haki 03/15/12 - 10:45 pm
8
1
This is what happens when we

This is what happens when we don't vote the issues but vote the party. Ronald McDonald can run for statewide office as a Republican in South Carolina and win. This essentially eliminates any vetting process. Next time you're in Columbia, look down for the big red shoes.

itsanotherday1
48315
Points
itsanotherday1 03/15/12 - 10:56 pm
2
3
You can say the same for

You can say the same for Democratic strongholds. Remember Marion Barry? Do I need to run down the list of convicted Democrats, and Democrats re-elected with convictions or pending criminal prosecution when elected?

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 03/16/12 - 03:00 am
3
0
Lewis Grizzard passed on this

Lewis Grizzard passed on this witty repartee in one of his columns

Pioneer sportscaster Bill Munday found himself asked an evening before the Yale-Harvard football game. "Who do you prefer in tomorrow's game?" "Neither one," he said. "You're all a bunch of dang Yankees and I hope you both lose."

That pretty much sums up my sentiments regarding Republicans and Democrats. Party labels are pretty meaningless now. Tax and spend vs. borrow and spend. Both are beholden to corporate interests and have been ramping up the size of the Federal government and the scope of the nanny-warfare-state. Both are full of politicians who have been charged with ethics violations. In fact, one of them is running for president!

Riverman1
93682
Points
Riverman1 03/16/12 - 03:45 am
2
0
If you think misuse of

If you think misuse of campaign funds is not common you just fell off the Vidalia Onion truck. Up until Doug Barnard retired elected officials could legally keep everything left over in their campaign funds when they left office. He was one of those in the Keating scandal, by the way. It was said he had over a million bucks in contributions when he quit.

We've had Columbia County politicians passing campaign funds back and forth. One gets contributions and gives it to another in the form of a party for the two of them. Sweet deal.

We have a Richmond County official given hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions. When the FBI is investigating one wealthy person for illegal contributions, he says he gave this official 10 grand. Get this, the official says he knows nothing about the money. So how in the world do you believe there's any way to account for campaign funds when honest record keeping and reporting is nonexistent?

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 03/16/12 - 05:42 am
0
6
So buying some nicer clothes

So buying some nicer clothes for campaign appearances, fuel for travel to those appearances, and food and hotels are illegal uses of campaign funds? Sorry, but I do not see a problem here. Spending that money on newspaper ads in newspapers no one reads.....that's OK, right?

Retired Army
17513
Points
Retired Army 03/16/12 - 06:36 am
5
0
Am I missing something here?

Am I missing something here? In reading the editorial I can't see if Mr. Ard was a Republican. Funny? I thought surley this editorial staff would pay attention to such a MINOR detail. I mean the ACES is not biased are they? It was an unintentional error, yeah that's the ticket

Why anybody in Podunk, Idaho could assume he wasn't a Republican, thank God.

ACES, I'll start believing your editorials are fairminded when they become that way.

effete elitist liberal
3191
Points
effete elitist liberal 03/16/12 - 07:36 am
5
0
Retired: I was about to make

Retired: I was about to make the same observation! Talk about "double standards"! Imagine if Ard had happened to have been a Democrat! ACES does note Lindsay Graham's party affiliation, but that's because Graham, terrified of getting the Bob Bennett treatment, is rapidly abandoning any pretense of political moderation and going hard right; at least for the moment he is in ACES's good graces. The point here is NOT that some Democrats are as corrupt as Ard, but that the AC is much more likely to use Democratic misbehavior to tar the entire party while
acting as if the party affiliation of corrupt Republicans is not even worthy a mention.

Michael Ryan
808
Points
Michael Ryan 03/16/12 - 09:59 am
1
0
I hope you're not a real

I hope you're not a real judge! The law is clear. This is criminal. Why else was he indicted by a jury of his peers? Nor did he fight the charges. And contributors don't give to candidates so they can take the family on free trips; they give to help a person of character get elected.

Riverman1
93682
Points
Riverman1 03/16/12 - 10:33 am
3
0
Mike, if you notice every

Mike, if you notice every comment laughed at the assumption candidates don't routinely use campaign money for personal use. Know why? We're realists. I laid out details. If you think that money is accurately accounted for you had best stick with the rose colored glasses and flowery statements.

allhans
24885
Points
allhans 03/16/12 - 12:16 pm
0
0
And poor, poor Blago, off to

And poor, poor Blago, off to prison.

Riverman1
93682
Points
Riverman1 03/16/12 - 01:57 pm
0
1
Mike, do you want to

Mike, do you want to challenge me on this statement I posted above? See that's the realist in me. You won't, yet you probably have a good idea it's true. I would be glad to explain it to you in a private email if you don't believe me because it's all public knowledge. I'm not picking on you especially. I'm an equal opportunity trouble maker. Here is the pertinent part of the post:

"We have a Richmond County official given hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions. When the FBI is investigating one wealthy person for illegal contributions, he says he gave this official 10 grand. Get this, the official says he knows nothing about the money. So how in the world do you believe there's any way to account for campaign funds when honest record keeping and reporting is nonexistent?"

Riverman1
93682
Points
Riverman1 03/16/12 - 01:59 pm
0
0
John Jenrette was the last SC

John Jenrette was the last SC politician to admit he was a crook. Then he and Rita played around on the White House steps. My kind of guy.

Retired Army
17513
Points
Retired Army 03/16/12 - 05:40 pm
2
0
A strange absence of

A strange absence of Republican zealots from this thread. Strange indeed.

shrimp for breakfast
5641
Points
shrimp for breakfast 03/16/12 - 06:15 pm
0
0
I'm really interested to see

I'm really interested to see what happens to John Edwards when he goes to trial.

ekharonne
20
Points
ekharonne 03/16/12 - 07:45 pm
1
0
Retired Army, guess what?

Retired Army, guess what? They are all on the "Obama Energy Policies Fail" thread. Wouldn't you just know it.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 03/16/12 - 08:25 pm
0
0
Actually, it was more like...

Actually, it was more like... then Rita played around on John, River. It seems he said something that made her very, very angry.

Riverman1
93682
Points
Riverman1 03/16/12 - 09:26 pm
0
0
John Jenrette had a great

John Jenrette had a great line when he was being tried for accepting bribes from FBI agents posing as Arabs. He walked outside during a break and spent some time chatting with reporters.

He asked them, "Boys, how do you tell an FBI agent from an Arab sheik?"

The reporters said they didn't know. He answered he didn't either.

The last I heard about him was when I was in DC and Jenrette got picked up at Falls Church for shop lifting a pair of shoes, strangely enough.

Riverman1
93682
Points
Riverman1 03/16/12 - 09:24 pm
0
0
Rita made Playboy.

Rita made Playboy.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 03/17/12 - 08:27 am
0
0
As a response to something

As a response to something her husband said to her.

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