Harpootlian wants Lt. Gov. case to go to grand jury

Lt. Gov. Ken Ard / FILE

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian says Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson is wasting time by setting up a task force to investigate the ethics case against GOP Lt. Gov. Ken Ard.

Harpootlian is a former prosecutor. He said Friday that Ard's case needs to go to a grand jury now to consider prosecution because Ard already has admitted he used campaign cash for personal purposes.

"If it is inadvertent or unintentional that would be a defense but these reports are public," said Harpootlian during a conference call Friday morning, "the expenditure is public, he's admitted to doing it publicly so why do we need a task force? Did he intend to spend his campaign money on personal items? That's the question, not whether he was ignorant of the law, that's not a defense."

Harpootlian opened the call and stated, "[I am] perturbed at the lack of action by our governor [Nikki Haley] to prosecute Ken Ard."

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Ard paid a $48,000 fine and $12,500 last month to cover investigation costs tied to 107 counts of using campaign cash for personal purposes.

Wilson set up a task force last week to review the investigation.

Wilson spokesman Mark Plowden says Harpootlian's job is to turn issues into partisan fights, but the attorney general isn't in the business of creating cute sound bites.

Do you think Ard's case should go to a grand jury to be prosecuted? Leave a comment below to weigh in with your thoughts.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)