Columbia, SC (WLTX) - South Carolina Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, who's been embattled for almost his entire term in office, has resigned.
Ard submitted his letter of resignation Friday morning, a document that was effective as of 10 a.m. In his letter to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Ard said he was making the move "in the best interest of our state and the people of South Carolina."
Just before noon, Glenn McConnell, who had been serving as Senate Pro Tempore, announced he would accept the position, as called for in the South Carolina Constitution.
Later in the day, State Attorney General Alan Wilson said Ard is facing a seven-count state grand jury indictment on ethics violations.
Ard's office sent the following statement after his resignation:
"I want to thank the great people of South Carolina for the incredible opportunity to serve as their Lieutenant Governor. It truly has been an honor and an experience I will never forget. The love and support you have shown my entire family has been humbling and something I will always remember.
"I also want to thank my family, especially my wife Tammy, and my three children, Jesse, Mason, and Libby. You have lived this experience with me. There were challenges and setbacks, but you were steadfast in your support and were there for me at every turn.
"To those who volunteered and worked on our campaign, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You were always there and never expected anything in return.
"To my staff, I have nothing but praise. Your professionalism and work ethic have been exemplary from day one. You have remained focused on carrying out the duties of our office in spite of other distractions.
"To all of the above and more, I owe a great apology. During my campaign, it was my responsibility to make sure things were done correctly. 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.
"I regret the distraction this has caused for the people of this state, my family, my staff, and other elected officials in South Carolina. It is because of these mistakes that I must take full ownership and resign from the Office of Lieutenant Governor. Once again, I am deeply sorry and take full responsibility for the entire situation."
The South Carolina attorney general's office has been investigating Ard for months on a series of allegations of misuse of campaign funds. Previous Coverage: Ken Ard Ethics Case Referred to State Grand Jury
Ard paid a $48,000 dollar fine to the State Ethics Commision last year after being hit by 107 counts of using campaign cash for personal expenses.
Among those alleged violations were a family vacation, iPads, a flat-screen television, clothes, meals and a trip to the SEC Football Championship Game in December of 2010.
Meanwhile, reaction from the state's political establishment has begun to flow in.
"Michael and I appreciate the service Ken and Tammy Ard have given to the state of South Carolina," Haley said in a statement. "They are good people who have given much of their time and efforts to Florence and the state as a whole. I valued Ken's partnership and wish Ken and his family all of the best going forward. I look forward to continuing the progress South Carolina has made in the last 15 months with our next Lieutenant Governor."
"Lieutenant Governor Ard has taken responsibility for his actions," said South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly in a statement. "His resignation will help our state move past this sad and unfortunate incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ken and his family during this time."