Senate Ethics meets to continue investigation against former Sen - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Senate Ethics meets to continue investigation against former Sen. Ford

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Last year, state Sen. Robert Ford was under investigation for using campaign funds for personal expenses. Now lawmakers believe there's fresh evidence that pattern continued after Ford resigned in June 2013.

As Ford's attorney argued the accusations are a result of bad bookkeeping, the former senator wasn't in Wednesday's meeting to hear it.

But the Senate Ethics Committee has found evidence to the contrary. Ford closed his campaign account last year, but subpoenaed bank documents show the last check he wrote didn't go to charity as he claimed. It was traced back to Ford, and later found that charity was not registered.

"The final check of $14,000 some dollars, did not go to a 501C3 but to his personal account which he's benefited from," said Sen. Luke Rankin (R-Horry).

Ford allegedly used that money to pay his rent, credit card payments, tailoring expenses, and car payment.

When asked about Ford's financial situation and whether he misused funds to support himself his attorney, William Runyon, had this answer.

"I can't tell you about motivation," said Runyon. "He did what he did."

Senators also believe Ford may have lied in his campaign disclosure reports. Documents show many of the expenses he later claimed didn't match up with his bank records.

"It would be hard to claim this is just bad bookkeeping," said Rankin. "This appears to be a systematic pattern that violates the law."

Ford's attorney believes the ethics investigation is a political move.

What's next for Ford? He could face a civil penalty of $2,000 per each violation, he may be required to pay back the money he spent from the account, or the case could be referred to the attorney general's office.

Last years investigation into Ford's alleged misuse of roughly $80,000 of campaign funds is still under investigation by the attorney general.

Ford maintains his "one-hundred-percent" innocence on these charges, saying he is just a "scapegoat" and a "guinea pig" for the General Assembly.

"These allegations are being made because they are afraid and fear that Gov Nikki Haley will come out against them on Ethics [reform]," said Ford.

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