One of the most colorful characters in the South Carolina Senate, Robert Ford, resigned today while in a hospital. The news came as lawmakers in Columbia were holding a hearing into allegations he mishandled campaign funds.
In a phone call around 11:30 a.m., the longtime Lowcountry Democrat told Free Times he’d talk about why he resigned, “after I check out of the hospital, man.” He had earlier checked in for chest pains, his attorney said.
Yesterday a Senate Ethics Committee lawyer accused him of using campaign funds to pay for things like male enhancement drugs and purchases at adult superstores. Ford’s attorney, William Runyan, said those were campaign related gifts to people who worked on projects Ford was involved in. Ford is also accused of mishandling campaign funds in other ways.
Runyan has been Ford’s attorney for more than 35 years and repped him on previous ethics-related cases that have gone all the way to the state Supreme Court.
Asked earlier today what it’s like being Ford’s attorney, Runyan paraphrased a scene from a play called The Birdcage.
“It’s like riding a psychotic horse through a burning barn,” he said.
Ford is known for drawing colorful headlines and for speaking his mind, at times drawing winces from his Senate colleagues. He ran for governor in 2010 on a platform of bringing video poker to South Carolina.