Grand jury meets, continues Lt. Governor Ken Ard investigation - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Grand jury meets, continues work on Lt. Governor Ken Ard investigation

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The statewide grand jury met for the 3rd time this year to listen to testimony and witnesses who have direct knowledge of Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard's campaign finances.

A source who testified before the grand jury last week told WIS the latest round of testimony came from "low-level staffers," and "volunteers" who collected contributions for Ard during his 2010 race.

The grand jury also met last month, listening to dozens of witnesses who ran and controlled the finances associated with Ard's campaign. The state Attorney General's office opened its investigation in July, days after Ard paid $48,400 in fines to the state Ethics Commission.

Ard's brother, Sammy Ard, testified before the grand jury in October. He owns AA Body Builders in Florence County. The business builds truck bodies in Pamplico, SC.  Ethics filings show that Ard gave his brother's Lt. Governor's campaign a $3,500 contribution on June 28, 2009.

In October, we went to Ard's business to find out why the grand jury called him, and what he knew of his brother's fund raising. Ard charged at our camera and threatened WIS reporter Jody Barr on the public right-of-way in front of his business. 

The grand jury also listened to testimony from AA Body Builder's office manager, Cheryl Poston-Crites. Poston-Crites gave the Ard campaign $3,500 on July 2, 2009, according to campaign records. Neither would talk about their testimony. Poston-Crites told WIS, "I'm not answering your questions."

Witnesses who testified before the grand jury also told WIS about a mother and daughter in Florence County who each gave Ard's campaign $7,000. Witnesses said the women have been questioned by State Law Enforcement Division agent and Attorney General's office investigators.

The women, Cindy McAllister and her daughter, Kristen Mayer both gave $3,500 a piece, according to Lt. Gov. Ard's ethics forms. The pair lists an address at Mallard Rd., but the contact information on the ethics form doesn't check out.

A man by the name of Bryan McAllister lives at that address. MCallister says neither woman has lived there in years. Bryan said he has been divorced from Cindy for at least 4 years.

Bryan told WIS he's never met the lieutenant governor and never gave money to his campaign. He also doesn't know his ex-wife's connection to Lt. Gov. Ard, or that she was ever that interested in politics. He wonders how Cindy or Mayer could afford to hand the lieutenant governor $7,000 considering their financial situations, "I don't see how, but then, you know, that's none of my business," Bryan continued, "But still, I don't see how."

Ard's former campaign manager, Stephanie Rawlinson, also testified before the grand jury. State prosecutors called her to Columbia in August. Her attorney asked her not to talk with us, but Rawlinson told WIS she only handled Lt. Gov. Ard's scheduling for a few months. She also said she never handled any of the campaign's finances.

We reached out to the lieutenant governor's office, but it has not responded. The Attorney General's office is also not commenting on the investigation, or how long the grand jury process may take before a decision is handed up.  

Related stories:

Lt Gov Ard campaign cash report misses deadline

SC Attorney General to review Ard case

Lt. Gov.'s brother charges at WIS reporter during investigation

Lt. Gov. to be charged with using campaign cash for personal expenses

Ethics Commission reviewing Lt. Gov's post-election spending

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