South Carolina may be a solidly Republican state, but it seems that officials in the Palmetto State can’t stay out of trouble. Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard resigned yesterday amid the controversy over his misuse of campaign funds.
Ard was charged with seven counts of misusing campaign funds for personal use, and fabricating political donations. Hours after he was charged with these offenses, it was evident that the Lieutenant Governor wanted to find as quick a resolution as possible regarding this matter. He plead guilty hours later, and was sentenced to five years probation, and a $5,000 fine.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office released the indictment, which noted specifically what the Lieutenant Governor was engaged in:
In summary, the State Grand Jury charges Mr. Ard with a scheme, developed as part of his candidacy for Lt. Governor, to create the false appearance of a groundswell of political support through fictitious or bogus campaign contributions. These donations to Mr. Ard’s campaign were not a genuine demonstration of financial support. Instead, they represented cash in the amount of $75,000 which was funneled from Mr. Ard to others and ultimately back to his campaign as purported contributions from citizens in the community.”
“The State Grand Jury also charges that phantom contributions in the amount of approximately $87,500 were a part of Mr. Ard’s scheme. Such contributions were either not made at all by the person listed or were not made in the amount reported.”
The last few years have not been kind to the Republican Party of South Carolina. How can any of us forget the embarrassing revelation of former Governor Mark Sanford admitting an affair with a woman from Argentina. From former Governor to the present, controversy is never too far behind. Governor Nikki Haley has taken flack for using a million dollar grant to establish a healthcare panel that’s decisions were already pre-determined. Palmetto State citizens from both parties are also upset at Governor Haley’s approval of Savannah dredging, especially after it was revealed that she held a fundraiser in Atlanta prior to the decision.
Looks like the voters of South Carolina should give the Democrats a chance. It wouldn’t hurt.
The results of the New Hampshire Primary were predicable…if but for a few surprises. Romney ran away with a victory tonight, taking 39.3% of all votes. Ron Paul was next with 22.9%, finishing up with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman in 3rd with a respectable 16.9%.
In my opinion, a Romney win is slowly helping to paint a picture of what a majority of Republican voters are feeling right now. They are concerned with who can defeat the President above all at the end of the day. They have their doubts about some of Romney’s past stances and his overall conviction(as most of us do). They understand that the other candidates will not suffice, and President Obama will wipe the floor with them. The President would coast to victory if he was forced to compete against the likes of a Rick Perry, or Rick Santorum. Both the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses put to bed the assertion that the Tea Party is some how significant in its influence on this presidential contest in particular.
This may be a a stretch, but I see yet another opening for Jon Huntsman. He placed a respectable 3rd, though it took almost a singular focus on the state.If Huntsman can outlast Gingrich and Santorum, he could possibly pick up their supporters. This would then create an opportunity to forge a unified coalition with the strength to battle Romney to the finish. I still the think that Romney will take it in the end, but I predict a longer primary slog than the front runners campaign is expecting.