Mary Ann Chastain/AP
Ken Ard, right, who was South Carolina's lieutenant governor until Friday, shall no longer don the purple robe of his office. Here he was with Gov. Nikki Haley at her state of the state speech in January 2012.
Ken Ard, right, who was South Carolina's lieutenant governor until Friday, shall no longer don the purple robe of his office. Here he was with Gov. Nikki Haley at her state of the state speech in January 2012. Mary Ann Chastain/AP
A state's lieutenant governor doesn't usually garner much attention, certainly not outside his own state, except for those instances when he must: assume the governorship in an emergency, break ties on controversial legislation in the deadlocked statehouse or resign under a cloud.
South Carolina's newly former lieutenant governor, Ken Ard, fits the last in that series.
Ard, a Republican, resigned Friday, as expected, even as an investigation by the state's attorney general, Alan Wilson, also a Republican, rose to a crescendo with the announcement of an indictment.
He faced allegations of campaign-finance law and ethics violations. Specifically, he was accused by South Carolina's attorney general of an odd tactic, shifting funds from his campaign to others then back to his to make it appear he had more support than he actually did.
There were also reports that he dipped into campaign funds to finance his personal lifestyle.
An alternative weekly called the Free Times provided some background:
Free Times first raised questions about Ard's campaign finances last February, revealing that he had improperly spent $25,000 of his campaign funds on personal items such as football tickets, leisure vacations, iPads, lavish dinners and clothes for his wife. A criminal investigation by Wilson's office followed and resulted in a months-long state grand jury investigation.
One of South Carolina's most entertaining politics web sites, FitsNews.com has been all over this story.
As Alan Greenblatt, who frequently writes for NPR and Governing, reminds us, South Carolina's political system has developed a reputation for churning out ethically challenged politicians though in fairness to the state, it has plenty of company in the likes of Illinois, New York, Florida, Texas, California and, indeed, any number of other states.
Apropos of nothing, the last photos of Ard discharging his official role of lieutenant governor show him wearing a purple robe as he presided Thursday for the final time over the South Carolina Senate, making him look more like a choir director.
That's a little different, presiding officers in other state legislatures usually wear the standard political uniform of dark business suit.
Maybe it's just another sign of the kind of uniqueness South Carolinians pride themselves on. That certainly comes across in this 1946 article about the inauguration of one of Ard's predecessors.
In any event, Ard will no longer be berobed, at least not as an officer of South Carolina's state government.