If you had a nickel for every time Robert Ford has faced ethics charges, you'd be 25 cents richer.
And that would be more than enough to cover the fines he's had to pay. So far.
The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating Sen. Ford on seven possible violations of misusing campaign funds. Friends and supporters say it's politically motivated (what isn't?). But you can't blame the Republicans for this.
If anyone is out to get him, it's the Democrats.
“I'm sure there are Democrats who'd love to see him have problems,” says Bill Runyon, Ford's attorney.
You mean the party that's allegedly shopping for challengers to run against Sen. Ford? Huh. Perhaps they don't like Ford because he can work across the aisle.
Or maybe it's because Ford attacks their sacred cows.
It's always something
In the 1970s Ford was suspended from Charleston City Council on forgery charges. This was during a drive to have Maryville annexed, and the FBI said his handwriting was all over the petition.
Yeah — he filled out the addresses for some folks who signed. That's not illegal. He was reinstated with back pay.
In the 1990s he was accused of accepting a donation larger than $3,500 during the campaign against the Charleston County school bond referendum. Read the fine print: The limit doesn't apply in referendum campaigns.
Once he was called out for putting personal business in some state mailers. But that's legal as long as it doesn't increase the postage costs. It didn't.
And once, the State Ethics Commission accused Ford of misusing campaign funds, but the state Supreme Court threw out the case.
No wonder Ford's friends are not too worried.
Shopping at CVS
For years, folks have joked about Ford's finances, because the veteran citizen legislator doesn't seem to hold a job.
Not entirely fair. He's sold cars, sold ads for a local paper, served as a paid community organizer for the United Methodist Church, and he takes political consulting gigs. Now he's retired and gets a state pension for his 30-plus years of public service.
His friends say Ford's outspoken nature gets him in trouble. Anyone who calls out S.C. State or criticizes Congressman Jim Clyburn is asking for retribution. In fact, some Ford supporters believe Clyburn is behind this, a claim Clyburn's camp denies.
Ultimately, the merits of the charges matter more than the source of the investigation, and Runyon feels that once again Ford will be acquitted.
He figures you will see campaign charges to CVS, which is where the senator gets all those cards he sends to his constituents on their birthdays and Mother's Day.
Again, not illegal.
Maybe the Ethics Committee has more — the evidence hasn't been released, so we don't know. But keep in mind that Ford has been fighting the power since the civil rights movement, and he's still here.
So don't bet against him.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.