Former Sen. Robert Ford fined for using campaign funds to pay personal bills
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- In a public hearing Wednesday, an ethics committee addressed allegations against former state Sen. Robert Ford for a second time.According to the Senate Ethics Committee, the newest complaint against Ford accuses him of continuing to spend campaign money and misreport expenses after he resigned from the Senate in May of last year due to medical reasons.The Associated Press reports that Ford acknowledged transferring nearly $15,000 in campaign donations to his organization and using it to pay his bills.Similar complaints were filed in 2013, alleging Ford misused campaign funds -- including at adult stores. Those allegations are still under review.In the most recent Senate Ethics Committee report on Ford, the ethics violations cited are said to have taken place from July to October 2013. The committee alleges that Ford converted campaign funds for personal use during that time after his resignation.Ford's lawyer, William Runyon, has blamed the problems on bad bookkeeping by a citizen lawmaker who tried to handle all his accounting and campaign filings without a staff.Mr. Ford released a statement on Wednesday's public ethics hearing professing his innocence."I am one-hundred-percent innocent and these allegations are completely unfounded and are totally false. I could have easily explained and answered any questions, if they had had the common decency and respect to talk to a member and 21-year-veteran of the South Carolina Senate," he said.Ford did not attend the hearing but his attorney agreed with the committees findings. Documents showed Ford used money from his campaign to pay for tailoring, rent, car payments and credit card bills.Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Luke Rankin said Ford will have to pay civil fines, but did not say how much those fines would be.