State task force reviews Lt. Gov. Ken Ard's case

Ken Ard

COLUMBIA -- Attorney General Alan Wilson's new public corruption task force met Friday to review details of Lt. Gov. Ken Ard's use of campaign cash.

The team, made up of career prosecutors, has not decided whether an investigation into Ard's use of campaign cash is necessary, said Mark Plowden, Wilson's spokesman. The task force will meet again early next week to determine if the case should be turned over to the State Law Enforcement Division for an investigation.

Ard's is the first case for the new task force. Plowden said the purpose of the team is to analyze information about potential public corruption, drawing on their combined experience in the field, and report the findings to the attorney general to supplement his own review of the facts.

"The point is to establish a go-to group that already has a lot of expertise in the field that will be accustomed to working with each other," Plowden said. "We see this as a good way to handle not only this case but also any others that should come."

Ard had no comment on the review, his spokeswoman said. The Republican lieutenant governor has said he takes full responsibility for any mistakes associated with his use of campaign cash.

Ard was charged in late June with more than 100 ethics violations for his improper use of campaign money on gaming equipment, a flat-screen television, a family vacation and football tickets, among other purchases after his November election. He was fined $48,400, made to reimburse the State Ethics Commission $12,500 in investigation costs and required to refund $12,000 to his campaign.

The task force idea was raised after then-Attorney General Henry McMaster's review of then-Gov. Mark Sanford's use of state resources, including the state plane. That review was triggered by Sanford's clandestine June 2009 trip to Argentina to meet with his lover.

Plowden said the attorney general's office did not hire any new employees for the task force, and the members will continue to perform their other duties in addition to the public corruption reviews.

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