South Carolina Lt. Governor Ken Ard (R) has settled his 107 ethics violations with the State Ethics Commission, and agreed to pay a $48,400 fine, cover the cost of the investigation, and reimburse his campaign for $12,121 in illegal expenditures.
Among those expenditures, Corey Hutchins of the South Carolina Free Times reports, was Ard’s wife’s phone bill and more than $3000 at Best Buy for a “Playstation 3, a flat-screen TV, an iPod Touch 8G, and two 3G iPads.” Ard initially claimed the purchases were “computer equip” for “campaign and office-related purposes.”
“As I said from the beginning, I planned to take full responsibility for any mistakes that I have made, and I have done so today,” Ard said, The State reports. “I have consistently strived to be a good steward of every dollar entrusted to me during my time in public service. I look forward to moving past this and continuing my work for the people of South Carolina in the office of lieutenant governor.”
Ard was investigated after spending $20,000 between November 3rd, right after he was elected, and December 31st, right before he took office. The expenditures included $1,000 in in women’s clothing at Talbots and the Gap, for “a pink turtleneck, tweed pants, and a pair of ladies black corduroy pants,” among other things. He told ethics investigators he had lost the receipts.
Ard also told ethics investigators that the $2,543 he spent to take his family to Washington, D.C. was for a visit to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — a meeting Graham’s office said never took place.
“I’ll be honest, I’m not really good at dotting i’s and crossing t’s, but I’ve got a lot — a lot — of money in here and I’m certainly not spending any money on my own personal behalf,” Ard told the Free Times back in January. “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.”
As part of the settlement Ard admitted to 38 of the illegal expenditures and was given a public reprimand.