[FONT=Arial,Helvetica] STATE TREASURER SUSPENDED AFTER DRUG CHARGES
Gov. Mark Sanford has suspended state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel after it was announced Tuesday the Charleston Republican had been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent distribute cocaine.
Federal and state authorities made the announcement in a news conference at SLED headquarters this afternoon.
According to the indictment, beginning in 2005 - before he was elected state treasurer - Ravenel conspired with Michael L. Miller to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
If convicted, Ravenel faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
"Given the grave nature of these charges and what is alleged in this indictment, we're left with no choice but to suspend Treasurer Ravenel immediately," Sanford said in a news release. "These are obviously very serious allegations that we're constitutionally bound to act upon, and they'll ultimately be decided by the courts."
Sanford said he plans to make a decision on an interim appointment as soon as possible
Ravenel raised millions of dollars to unseat long-term Democratic incumbent Grady Patterson in November. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Ravenel in April was named the state chairman for former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's presidential campaign.
Ravenel, 44, is a multi-millionaire real estate developer and the son of Arthur Ravenel Jr., a powerful South Carolina politician who formerly was a member of the General Assembly and the U.S. House.
As treasurer, Ravenel is responsible for handling the state's finances and investments. He also holds a seat on the powerful State Budget and Control Board, which controls much of the state bureaucracy. His salary is $92,007.
Check back throughout the evening and in Wednesday's editions of The State newspaper for updates on this story. [/FONT]