Prosecutor wants South Carolina corruption report released
By MEG KINNARD and JEFFREY COLLINS
Sep. 06, 2018
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The prosecutor leading an investigation into corruption at the South Carolina Statehouse wants the grand jury's report on the probe made public, an indication the two-year investigation is almost finished.
The report will answer questions about the investigation that led to the indictments of six Republican lawmakers, including a House Speaker, and includes recommendations for legislators, Solicitor David Pascoe said in a motion filed Thursday.
Four lawmakers have pleaded guilty, but none received prison time. Two more are awaiting trial.
State law typically keeps grand jury actions and reports secret. But Pascoe wrote that there are exceptions.
"The undersigned firmly believes that the greatest weapon against public corruption and incompetence is government is transparency," Pascoe wrote. "Indeed, public exposure may be the only deterrent to public corruption."
Pascoe's motion came a day after the release of an indictment that says the former chairman of a powerful South Carolina legislative committee lied to the grand jury.
Republican Jim Harrison now faces two perjury counts. Prosecutors said he told jurors that he only worked on other politicians' campaigns for consultant Richard Quinn, according to court documents.
But Harrison, who served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also sponsored and voted on legislation that favored Quinn's clients, according to the indictment.
The grand jury previously charged the 67-year-old Harrison with criminal conspiracy and misconduct, and a trial date has been set for Oct. 22. Prosecutors have said that Harrison failed to reveal in financial disclosure statements that he was paid $900,000 for working for Quinn.
Quinn also was charged in the yearslong investigation that has brought guilty pleas from four state lawmakers, including former House Speaker Bobby Harrell and former House Majority Leader Jim Merrill. Corruption charges against the longtime consultant who has advised many of the state's Republican officeholders were dropped late last year in exchange for Quinn's promise to cooperate with investigators as well as his son, former state Rep. Rick Quinn Jr., pleading guilty to misdemeanor misconduct in office.
Harrison and fellow former state Rep. Tracy Edge of Myrtle Beach are the only remaining lawmakers charged in the Statehouse investigation whose cases remain in court. Earlier this year, Sen. John Courson of Columbia pleaded guilty to misconduct in office and resigned on the same day that his trial was supposed to start.
All of the lawmakers charged have been Republicans, but Pascoe has said that his investigation isn't politically motivated and he's only going where the evidence has led him.
In his motion to make the grand jury report public, Pascoe said the grand jury asked him to write a report summarizing his findings, then vote to accept it as their final act in June after two years of meetings.
The motion suggests Pascoe has reached agreements with several of Quinn's corporate and public clients. Earlier testimony indicated those groups included AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, SCANA, the University of South Carolina and the State Ports Authority.
The investigation was given to Pascoe after state Attorney General Alan Wilson — a Quinn client — handed it off because of a possible conflict of interest and then tried to stop it by saying Pascoe was exceeding his authority. Pascoe's motion indicates it is almost over.
"The grand jury has reached its conclusions with respect to all subjects of the investigation and has either issued indictments or recommended further legal process and legislative action," Pascoe wrote.
Harrison left office after choosing not to seek re-election in 2012. The new charges were first reported Wednesday by The State newspaper, and Harrison's attorney Reggie Lloyd told the paper the new indictment is a ploy to make Harrison plead guilty.
Sign up for "Politics in Focus," a weekly newsletter showcasing the AP's best political reporting from across the United States leading up to the 2018 midterm elections: http://apne.ws/3Gzcraw.
Reach Kinnard at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard.