We at VUI were glad to see that someone other than our staff reads campaign finance disclosures and finds interesting stuff. We have been doing it for years. But, when Democratic Party Chairman Dick Hartpootlian and the South Carolina Democratic Party did the homework, the State newspaper ran an article about more problems with Lt. Governor Ard and his campaign finances.
Attorney General Alan Wilson announced he was forming a task force to investigate Ard and other cases of potential public corruption.
So, it does look bad for Lt. Governor Ard. However, unless some major development happens, do not look for Lt. Governor Ard to resign or be booted from office.
After all, former Governor Sanford had more serious allegations and he paid a civil fine and paid that fine with campaign money. Frankly, politicians and political groups in South Carolina play fast and loose with the laws and get away with it. That is the culture of South Carolina politics that gives us all sorts of groups who hide their contributors.
The culture of South Carolina politics is not the biggest reason that Ard is relatively safe. The biggest reason is State Senator Glenn McConnell. McConnell, who as President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, has the most raw power in state government, made clear during the Sanford scandal that he did not want to be Lt. Governor. Some believe that saved Sanford.
Little has changed since the Sanford scandal. McConnell remains a quietly powerful figure. People around the state do not know him by and large, but he rules the State Senate with his wit and his politically iron fist. As President Pro Tempore, he would be elevated to Lt. Governor if Ard resigned, leaving his powerful post to be better known with a lot less power.
During the Sanford scandal, ideas were floated about McConnell resigning his post as President Pro Tempore and letting his replacement become Lt. Governor and then taking back the office after the elevation. That is tricky. Letting Ard stay in office is a sure thing. That is why, again, unless something bigger breaks, Lt. Governor Ard stays.