“The Attorney General’s Office is in no way conflicted in our responsibility to uphold the law,” Wilson said in a statement. “However, appearance does matter. Therefore, I have instructed my campaign to refund both contributions. I am doing this in an abundance of caution to avoid even the slightest appearance or impression that this office could be compromised in any way.”
Harrell’s Palmetto Leadership Council gave Wilson’s 2010 campaign $3,500 in October of 2010. In January 2011, Harrell’s campaign committee gave Wilson’s inaugural committee another $3,500.
That latter contribution has caused some heartburn at the S.C. State Ethics Commission, which referred to Harrell’s contribution as “inappropriate.”
“It would be a huge stretch for a candidate to say that that was an acceptable expenditure,” S.C. Ethics Commission attorney Cathy Hazelwood told The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times. “I would see that as unrelated to the campaign or the office.”
Last week Wilson’s office referred an ethics complaint against Harrell to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – an agency which serves S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, a longtime Harrell nemesis.
Why is that ironic? Because just last year Haley escaped prosecution for her own ethical lapses.
Harrell is facing a host of allegations – including the receipt of improper reimbursements, the misappropriation and misreporting of campaign funds and influence peddling.