Sources at the S.C. State House tell FITS a furious campaign is underway for the most powerful position in state government – Speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives.

Wait a minute … isn’t that office presently occupied?

Indeed it is .. so why are several lawmakers openly campaigning for the seat? According to our sources, it’s because they’re convinced the current Speaker – Bobby Harrell (RINO-Charleston) – is about to go down in connection with one of several ethics scandals. In fact we’re told several mainstream media reporters are currently digging on the story.

Harrell’s political action committee – the “Palmetto Leadership Council” – has engaged in all sorts of unethical behavior benefiting both the Speaker and his fellow “Republicans in Name Only” in the S.C. General Assembly in recent years. In fact just last week Harrell’s PAC was embroiled in another major scandal involving the alleged misappropriation and misreporting of campaign funds.

Beyond that Harrell is guilty as sin when it comes to the improper reimbursement of hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign account. He’s even returned $23,000 of this money – the equivalent of a bank robber returning to the scene of his crime and giving back a portion of his ill-gotten gains.

Also, Harrell has been accused of applying improper pressure on the S.C. Pharmacy Board and the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR) regarding his pharmaceutical business.

Which one of these scandals has finally caught up with him?

It’s not clear at this point – nor is it clear who (if anyone) is investigating Harrell. We’ve been told a complaint has been filed with the S.C. House Ethics Committee, but based on that entity’s prior history (and Harrell’s contributions to its various committee members) it’s unlikely the case would advance. Meanwhile sources close to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson tell FITS they “don’t believe” his office has a file open on Harrell.

The other big rumor making the rounds? A possible U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) investigation into the Speaker’s PAC.

While the investigatory component of all this remains in the air, the politics of replacing Harrell is in full swing.

“People are running like he’s already gone,” one House member told us. “This isn’t a ‘one or two years from now’ kind of race – they’re running like this thing is happening now.”

Who’s in?

Sources tell FITS Speaker Pro Tempore Jay Lucas is openly campaigning for the position – with the assistance of S.C. Rep. Greg Delleney. Also openly campaigning? S.C. Ways and Means chairman Brian White – Harrell’s longtime lackey. Other possible candidates include former majority leaders Kenny Bingham and Jimmy Merrill – although neither of them have been lining up supporters.

Sources close to Harrell insist he’s not going anywhere – and say the buzz about a race to replace him is overblown. They also categorically deny having any knowledge of state or federal investigations into any of the allegations against Harrell.


Pic: Travis Bell Photography