South Carolina Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned Friday amid a criminal investigation into his use of campaign funds.
Ard, who was elected in 2010 alongside Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, was accused of spending campaign funds on personal items and charged last year with 107 ethics violations by the State Ethics Commission. After winning election, Ard used leftover money from his campaign to pay for iPads, clothing, food and a family vacation, among other items.
The ethics commission forced Ard to pay about $70,000 in fines and reimbursements, the second largest ethics fine in state history. Last July, the ethics case became a criminal one after South Carolina's attorney general, Alan Wilson, referred Ard's case to a grand jury.
Wilson is scheduled to give a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss the grand jury investigation into Ard's improper expenditures.
In a letter sent to Haley and state senators on Friday, Ard apologized for his actions and took responsibility for failing to make sure the money was properly spent.
"During my campaign, it was my responsibility to make sure things were done correctly," he wrote. "I did not do that. There are no excuses nor is there need to share blame. It is my fault that the events of the past year have taken place."
He concluded, "Once again, I am deeply sorry and take full responsibility for the entire situation."
In a Friday statement, Haley thanked Ard for his service.
"I valued Ken's partnership and wish Ken and his family all of the best going forward," Haley said. "I look forward to continuing the progress South Carolina has made in the last 15 months with our next lieutenant governor."
Per state law, South Carolina's Senate President Pro Tem Glen McConnell is slated to step in as lieutenant governor.
But as South Carolina's The State reports, McConnell would be giving up a much more powerful role if he stepped in to fill Ard's largely ceremonial post. Another state senator, John Courson, has stated he would be willing to take the position, but would not seek re-election at the end of Ard's term.
UPDATE 2:21 PM:
At a Friday press conference, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that the state grand jury has indicted Ard on seven counts of ethics violation.
McConnell has announced that he will step in to fill Ard's post.
In a Friday statement, McConnell said he intended to "carry out the Constitution as [he] swore to do in accordance with the language as was written."