Former Senator Robert Ford claims innocence, despite guilty plea

Former Senator Robert Ford claims innocence, despite guilty plea

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Wednesday, Former state senator Robert Ford pleaded guilty to several charges after an investigation found he was taking money from his campaign funds for his own personal use.

Ford maintains his innocence and says he only entered a guilty plea because he didn't have enough money to fight the charges in court. He says the investigation into his spending came about simply because someone was out to get him.

"It's strictly a personal vendetta," said Ford.

Ford plead guilty to four charges: misconduct in office, forgery, and two violations of the state ethics law.

This was out of eight charges he's facing in total.

"Roughest day of my life," said Ford.

State prosecutors say he used money for personal expenses like car payments, shopping and food.

Ford claims the money he withdrew went towards gifts for people who helped with his campaign.

"I buy gift cards and birthday cards and gifts to 95 percent of the staff in the senate," said Ford.

He said he doesn't think his donators have a problem with how he was spending the money.

The sentencing has been put off until April while officials continue to investigate his spending. The 66-year-old said he was arrested seven times as a teen during the civil rights movement and is prepared for any outcome.

That could mean jail time or having to pay restitution.

"I'm hoping that some of the people who I helped in the past say 'We're going to do something for this old man' ... otherwise we're going to be in trouble," said Ford.

In the meantime, he says he'll keep doing what he knows best.

"That's all I know how to do - serve," said Ford.

Ford said he is going to file a lawsuit against the senate ethics committee because he claims those who had a conflict of interest, or what he calls a vendetta, should have been removed while his investigation was underway.

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