COLUMBIA — State Sen. Robert Ford, issued his resignation letter moments ago from the South Carolina Senate.

Attached to the formal note was a sentence telling supporters that staying to fight would have been tough.

“If I was ten years younger, I would stay and fight. But at this point in my life, I feel this is the best decision for everyone concerned.

I am proud to have represented you in the legislature – but more importantly, I am honored to be considered your friend.”

Ford resigned this morning as the Senate Ethics Committee was finishing up its review into his campaign spending.

Ford has held the Senate seat for 20 years and previously served on Charleston City Council. He did not attend the hearing today after spending last night in the hospital, his attorney William Runyon said.

Ford has cardiovascular problems, Runyon said.

The official letter touched on his health and his desire to work with others of different backgrounds.

“I sought to teach others about the struggles of my people,” he said in the letter, “But I learned a great deal as well. One of my proudest moments was watching as the Confederate flag was lowered from the State House dome alongside my good friend, then-Sen. Glenn Mcconnell.

This action was achieved only by black and white working together to honor our shared history.”

On Thursday, Ford began the fight for his political career when he faced allegations that he spent campaign funds on personal expenses, including purchases at adult stores.

Runyon said he expected more discussion on “expenses, checks and receipts” today.

Questions about the purchases at adult stores yesterday didn’t surprise Runyon, he said, because he knew they were coming.

Ford said the purchases were gag gifts for campaign workers and the purchases were legal.

Runyon said Ford’s problem is poor record keeping. “Nobody would accuse Robert Ford of having any kind of system,” he said. “A lot of folks know how to serve the community but don’t know how to keep their records straight.”

His resignation will result in the Lowcountry’s third high profile election in a year.

Filing for Ford’s old Senate 42 seat could open on June 21 and close July 1, State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said.

Any primaries would be held on Aug. 13, and the special election itself would be held Oct. 1.

The black-majority seat contains portions of downtown Charleston, West Ashley and North Charleston.

Check back for updates at postandcourier.com. Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.