SC

Bobby Harrell: The Investigation Begins

The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has assigned agents to begin investigating an ethics complaint against S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell – the beginning of what many believe is “the end” for the state’s most powerful elected official. SLED investigators are now actively working the complaint against Harrell –…

The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has assigned agents to begin investigating an ethics complaint against S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell – the beginning of what many believe is “the end” for the state’s most powerful elected official.

SLED investigators are now actively working the complaint against Harrell – which was forwarded to them two weeks ago by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.

What does that mean? Well, it means the agency has determined there is sufficient meat to the multiple allegations against the Speaker to warrant a full-fledged probe. In other words Harrell’s contention that the allegations against him are “baseless” is … well … baseless.

FITS has already started receiving tips about individuals who have been contacted by investigators regarding their knowledge of Harrell’s various shady dealings. In fact, they tell us investigators have already begun collecting the evidence they will need to ensure an indictment against Harrell before a statewide grand jury.

What did Harrell do? Well, for starters he reimbursed himself more than $325,000 from his campaign account for dubious flight-related expenses (Harrell is a pilot). In fact Harrell has effectively admitted his guilt by returning $23,000 of these reimbursements. He also stands 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. Not only that his political action committee is under scrutiny for allegedly misappropriating and misreporting funds.

In fact some say Harrell’s PAC is where his biggest problems lie …

This website has already called on Harrell to step down –  not necessarily because of what he has done, but because of how he has chosen to respond to the scandal. First he has lied and refused to release his records. He’s also assassinated the character of one of the reporters investigating him – strong-arming her newspaper into backing down by allegedly threatening to withhold an annual $12 million bribe given by the S.C. General Assembly to the newspaper industry.

Sharks smell blood in the water, too, with a furious campaign already underway in the S.C. House among Harrell’s would-be successors …

***

Related posts

SC

Charleston Legal Drama Erupts

Will Folks
SC

How Pastor John-Paul Miller’s ‘Memorial Service’ For His Dead Wife Went Viral

Jenn Wood
SC

Missing Macaque Shot And Killed

Will Folks

62 comments

RHood2 February 28, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Yeah. throw an “allegedly” in there. That makes it sound.

Reply
RHood2 February 28, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Yeah. throw an “allegedly” in there. That makes it sound.

Reply
Billy K Mulligan February 28, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Trikki Nikki has reportedly directed SLED, a part of her cabinet, to take Harrell down. Of course many believed that the FBI was going to take Trikki down too. Sanfraud was never indicted so I say this too shall pass. Harrell is a scumbag and this is a paid for attack piece.

Reply
You know me March 1, 2013 at 11:05 am

Vindictive as hell…just like the rest of her clan.

Reply
Maggie Mae February 28, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Why should we think anything will happen to Harrell. Nikki Haley’s allegations were almost the same and she slithered away in the grass. I am betting Harrell will slither away as well.

Reply
Billy K Mulligan February 28, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Trikki Nikki has reportedly directed SLED, a part of her cabinet, to take Harrell down. Of course many believed that the FBI was going to take Trikki down too. Sanfraud was never indicted so I say this too shall pass. Harrell is a scumbag and this is a paid for attack piece.

Reply
You know me March 1, 2013 at 11:05 am

Vindictive as hell…just like the rest of her clan.

Reply
Maggie Mae February 28, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Why should we think anything will happen to Harrell. Nikki Haley’s allegations were almost the same and she slithered away in the grass. I am betting Harrell will slither away as well.

Reply
Barnum February 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm

SLED is a brothel, like the legislature that controls SLED’s budget. This is a comedy.

Reply
ELCID March 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Not sure I agree with that statement. I’ve met the head of SLED and that guy appears to be the real deal. Wearing a gun on his side and looking like a Texas Ranger; I would definitely not want to “Make His Day!”

Reply
ELCID CLONE March 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm

It is salient that you are oblivious to what really goes on behind the scenes, or you are a spy for the Harrell defense. My my, what a person’s trash container can produce in the way of evidence. Harrell is being extra careful what he says over his cell phone. Maybe he already had someone buy him one of those “no contract” phones as a back up? You know the type. Dont need to register no name for one.

Reply
ELCID March 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Clone??

I’m well aware of what goes on behind the scenes in Columbia. Don’t think I’m not! I’m not defending Bobby Harrell, he’s got a lot of enemies, and if he screwed up: they will certainly bring him down, and they should. Plus, I can’t stand Tricky Nicky Haley.

I just don’t agree with attacking the head guy at SLED: Mark Keel. I’ve met him on several occasions and found him to be honest, dedicated, and very good at what he does. I’m glad he got the job finally after that fellow from Florida had to leave. The Feds are already looking at Bobby Harrell. I’m sure they will find anything that SLED over looks.

Reply
katlaurenscounty March 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm

On what do you base your claim? You have no factual basis, because SLED doesn’t disclose any. Anyone with professional experience in non-subjective performance management statistics can see, with careful reading, Keel reports SLEDs results only as workload stats (full elaboration beyond scope, available separately if interested). Quantity is irrelevant to competency. The use of unfounded subjective personal opinions, like ‘honesty’ ‘good’ is expressly forbidden in professional performance management. The use of personal opinions promote discrimination, nepotism, corruption, and cronyism – exactly why SC is so corrupt. Keel is responsible for job performance of SLED underlings, which can only be objectively assessed by their compliance to procedures. According to my correspondence with some, they are investigating one of my complaints without written procedures, according to ‘the way they’ve always done’ – arbitrary and subjective. It isn’t possible to rationally conclude SLED’s performance is anything but arbitrary and directed by KEEL’s personal say so. No matter how ‘honest’ he is, SLED isn’t supposed to be following somebody’s personal say so. That means there must be PUBLIC disclosure of job targets, procedures they must follow to meet targets, and data proving targets met.

Joe March 5, 2013 at 6:29 am

Was he doing good drugs, this Texas Ranger?

Reply
JackDaniel Davis March 1, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Depending on the investigation and the results will prove whether SLED is as you believe. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Harrell does not personally control SLED’s budget.

Reply
Barnum February 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm

SLED is a brothel, like the legislature that controls SLED’s budget. This is a comedy.

Reply
ELCID March 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Not sure I agree with that statement. I’ve met the head of SLED and that guy appears to be the real deal. Wearing a gun on his side and looking like a Texas Ranger; I would definitely not want to “Make His Day!”

Reply
ELCID CLONE March 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm

It is salient that you are oblivious to what really goes on behind the scenes, or you are a spy for the Harrell defense. My my, what a person’s trash container can produce in the way of evidence. Harrell is being extra careful what he says over his cell phone. Maybe he already had someone buy him one of those “no contract” phones as a back up? You know the type. Dont need to register no name for one.

Reply
ELCID March 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Clone??

I’m well aware of what goes on behind the scenes in Columbia. Don’t think I’m not! I’m not defending Bobby Harrell, he’s got a lot of enemies, and if he screwed up: they will certainly bring him down, and they should. Plus, I can’t stand Tricky Nicky Haley.

I just don’t agree with attacking the head guy at SLED: Mark Keel. I’ve met him on several occasions and found him to be honest, dedicated, and very good at what he does. I’m glad he got the job finally after that fellow from Florida had to leave. The Feds are already looking at Bobby Harrell. I’m sure they will find anything that SLED over looks.

Reply
katlaurenscounty March 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm

On what do you base your claim? You have no factual basis, because SLED doesn’t disclose any. Anyone with professional experience in non-subjective performance management statistics can see, with careful reading, Keel reports SLEDs results only as workload stats (full elaboration beyond scope, available separately if interested). Quantity is irrelevant to competency. The use of unfounded subjective personal opinions, like ‘honesty’ ‘good’ is expressly forbidden in professional performance management. The use of personal opinions promote discrimination, nepotism, corruption, and cronyism – exactly why SC is so corrupt. Keel is responsible for job performance of SLED underlings, which can only be objectively assessed by their compliance to procedures. According to my correspondence with some, they investigate without written procedures, according to ‘the way they’ve always done’ – arbitrary and subjective. It isn’t possible to rationally conclude SLED’s performance is anything but arbitrary and directed by KEEL’s personal say so. No matter how ‘honest’ he is, SLED isn’t supposed to be following somebody’s personal say so. That means there must be PUBLIC disclosure of job targets, procedures they must follow to meet targets, and data proving targets met.

Joe March 5, 2013 at 6:29 am

Was he doing good drugs, this Texas Ranger?

Reply
JackDanielDavis March 1, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Depending on the investigation and the results will prove whether SLED is as you believe. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Harrell does not personally control SLED’s budget.

Reply
jimlewisowb February 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Bobby Harrell’s resignation before his indictment may qualify as a Black Swan Event.

I don’t think it will top the current top 5 International BSEs

1. The creation of the Internet
2. The earthquake in Japan
3. The fall of Russia
4. 9/11
5. The financial collapse of 2008

However for the taxpayers of South Carolina it should rank perhaps 5th behind

1. The defeat of Nikki Haley in 2014,
2. The return of the Hunley to the Ocean’s floor with McConnell at the helm
3. The indictment of every elected official in Horry County
4. The exiling of Reynolds Williams to the Galápagos Islands to be reunited with his kinfolk

Reply
Sarge February 28, 2013 at 10:47 pm

You are not listening. Queen Jean Toal’s attorney discipline staff, at her instruction has ruled that Reynolds did nothing wrong. Therefore, you are to please stop bringing his name up on this site indicating you must think he did something “inappropriate.”. It’s over.

Reply
Sarge 2 March 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Wanna see photos of Jeans trash?

Reply
JackDaniel Davis March 1, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I like your humor! Tell it like it is!

Reply
jimlewisowb February 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Bobby Harrell’s resignation before his indictment may qualify as a Black Swan Event.

I don’t think it will top the current top 5 International BSEs

1. The creation of the Internet
2. The earthquake in Japan
3. The fall of Russia
4. 9/11
5. The financial collapse of 2008

However for the taxpayers of South Carolina it should rank perhaps 5th behind

1. The defeat of Nikki Haley in 2014,
2. The return of the Hunley to the Ocean’s floor with McConnell at the helm
3. The indictment of every elected official in Horry County
4. The exiling of Reynolds Williams to the Galápagos Islands to be reunited with his kinfolk

Reply
Sarge February 28, 2013 at 10:47 pm

You are not listening. Queen Jean Toal’s attorney discipline staff, at her instruction has ruled that Reynolds did nothing wrong. Therefore, you are to please stop bringing his name up on this site indicating you must think he did something “inappropriate.”. It’s over.

Reply
Sarge 2 March 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Wanna see photos of Jeans trash?

Reply
JackDanielDavis March 1, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I like your humor! Tell it like it is!

Reply
James Tony Sparks February 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Harvey Peeler need to go too!!!!!!!

Reply
Mae Wesst February 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Amen!! What does he do that isn’t for Harvey?
His wife must be blind, dumb and deaf or does not care!
Everybody in Columbia and the Capitol Complex is aware of him and wary of him, especially the women,
And, a more vindictive, arrgant self serving bastard has never been elected!

Reply
James Tony Sparks February 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Harvey Peeler need to go too!!!!!!!

Reply
Mae Wesst February 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Amen!! What does he do that isn’t for Harvey?
His wife must be blind, dumb and deaf or does not care!
Everybody in Columbia and the Capitol Complex is aware of him and wary of him, especially the women,
And, a more vindictive, arrgant self serving bastard has never been elected!

Reply
Mike Griffin February 28, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Bobby Harrell has done everything to coerce and use underhanded tactics toward his enemies. Those enemies are the people of SC who want to remain independent from Federal control. Bobby Harrell is a devious megalamaniac that has done more harm to this state. Its about time he is made low and drummed out of office. And he never was a conservative Republican but an example of a true RINO.

Reply
You know me March 1, 2013 at 11:01 am

Wonder when his wife will divorce him ? When the $$$$$$$ and power dries up?

Reply
Mike Griffin February 28, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Bobby Harrell has done everything to coerce and use underhanded tactics toward his enemies. Those enemies are the people of SC who want to remain independent from Federal control. Bobby Harrell is a devious megalamaniac that has done more harm to this state. Its about time he is made low and drummed out of office. And he never was a conservative Republican but an example of a true RINO.

Reply
You know me March 1, 2013 at 11:01 am

Wonder when his wife will divorce him ? When the $$$$$$$ and power dries up?

Reply
K.L./Orangeburg March 1, 2013 at 1:00 am

Harrell in picture, caption:

“Folks, this is SLED: a loaf of cheap white bread, mostly air. I squeeze the SLED loaf with my hands, like this, and find those four little bastards investigating me. I pull off their little arms and legs and feed them to my dogs. What’s left, I use for bait in in my crab traps that I set with my 30-foot Wellcraft. This is gonna be fun.”

http://wellcraft.com/index.php/COASTAL/290%20COASTAL

Reply
You know me March 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Stick a fork in, he is done.

Reply
K.L./Orangeburg March 1, 2013 at 1:00 am

Harrell in picture, caption:

“Folks, this is SLED: a loaf of cheap white bread, mostly air. I squeeze the SLED loaf with my hands, like this, and find those four little bastards investigating me. I pull off their little arms and legs and feed them to my dogs. What’s left, I use for bait in in my crab traps that I set with my 30-foot Wellcraft. This is gonna be fun.”

http://wellcraft.com/index.php/COASTAL/290%20COASTAL

Reply
You know me March 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Stick a fork in, he is done.

Reply
Tom March 1, 2013 at 10:43 am

Way to go Ashley.

Reply
Tom March 1, 2013 at 10:43 am

Way to go Ashley.

Reply
Yeah yeah yeah March 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

let us think about the endless stories of pending indictments of high profile people that just never materialized.
Lexington County ring, murders, Ole Knocky? How about Haley’s dad and the IRS – our sources say he is not off the hook and an indictment is near???, need I continue?
So what? SLED sends in a ringer, pokes around, they pen a statement for the media, and poof, it’s over. Next.

Reply
You know me March 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Will her dad go to prison?

Reply
Yeah yeah yeah March 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

let us think about the endless stories of pending indictments of high profile people that just never materialized.
Lexington County ring, murders, Ole Knocky? How about Haley’s dad and the IRS – our sources say he is not off the hook and an indictment is near???, need I continue?
So what? SLED sends in a ringer, pokes around, they pen a statement for the media, and poof, it’s over. Next.

Reply
You know me March 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Will her dad go to prison?

Reply
JackDaniel Davis March 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Burn him a new a$$ hole Buddy!

Reply
JackDanielDavis March 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Burn him a new a$$ hole Buddy!

Reply
Adam March 3, 2013 at 1:55 am

>>

Talk to Democratic staffers and, when they’re permitted to speak without attribution, they will explain that publicly scrutinizing Harrell would be akin to criticizing your doctor just before he’s about to put you under anesthesia.

“A number of House Democrats have indicated Harrell is a very retributive guy and they are fearful that if they do speak up, they will be kicked off committees,” Harpootlian said.

<<

If Alan Wilson lets Harrell off the hook, he is dead meat.

The Post and Courier
Harrell investigation highlights complex Statehouse politics
By Stephen Largen
Sunday, March 3, 2013

[PHOTO] Rep.Harry Ott (left) is one of several Democrats who describe Bobby Harrell as a respected colleague and friend.

COLUMBIA — S.C. Democratic lawmakers typically have little hesitation in bashing Republican officials and their policies.

###

Harrell probe timeline

Sept. 24, 2012: The Post and Courier publishes a report detailing how Bobby Harrell reimbursed himself hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign account since 2008, much of it for flights on his private plane. Harrell does not allow the newspaper to view receipts or itemized invoices accounting for the spending.

Sept. 26, 2012: Harrell meets with an Associated Press reporter and produces documents — credit card and phone bills, hotel invoices and pay stubs — he says back up the spending. Harrell also tells the AP he has moved $23,000 back into his campaign account because he couldn’t account for the expenditures.

Oct. 9, 2012: S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson releases a statement saying the House Ethics Committee must have the first opportunity to investigate Harrell. Wilson says it is premature for his office to ask the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate Harrell. “The process must proceed as prescribed by state law,” Wilson says.

Mid-October 2012: Harrell’s office releases a formal explanation for how much his plane costs to operate, saying the speaker reimbursed himself less than the fair market value of his flights. Harrell’s accounting of how he paid himself back raises questions about the accuracy of the reimbursements and whether the money helped him subsidize some of the cost of plane ownership.

Fall 2012: Harrell’s campaign sends out a direct mail piece ahead of the November election claiming he is being attacked unfairly. “Why is Bobby Being Attacked by the Liberal Media? Because he is providing conservative leadership in SC.” Harrell’s mailer
carries similar themes to a newsletter he posted on his website and sent to supporters earlier in the fall.

Winter 2012-13: Harrell shields his flight records from public view using a Federal Aviation Administration-approved program.

Jan. 22, 2013: The S.C. Policy Council, a limited-government think tank, releases emails and correspondence to reporters dating back to 2006 when Harrell was seeking state approval to begin operating his drug-repackaging company. The group raises questions about whether Harrell sought or received special treatment for the company, which Harrell denies.

Feb. 8, 2013: The Post and Courier publishes a report detailing a $23,000 payment by a political action committee affiliated with Harrell to advertising firm Rawle Murdy. In its report to the State Ethics Commission, the PAC included a $23,000 payment to Rawle Murdy in October, describing it as an election expense. That description raised eyebrows among opponents of the project to complete Interstate 526, because Rawle Murdy rarely does electoral work. The firm worked to push the completion of the interstate. Rawle Murdy President Bruce Murdy acknowledges that he did work for the PAC, but would not say what sort of work he did, referring such questions to the PAC. The group does not respond to requests for comment, and its website is no longer available.

Feb. 8-9, 2013: The Post and Courier and the Policy Council’s reporting arm publish reports based on records showing a group of state and pharmacy officials who expressed concerns that Harrell used his political power as he sought to help his company. The records were obtained under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act. The newspaper also reported that, based on an email from a former state official, Harrell’s former legislative chief of staff played a role in 2006 when the Charleston Republican was seeking approval for the drug repackaging business.

Feb. 14, 2013: Wilson, the state attorney general, asks the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate whether Harrell used his office or campaign fund for personal gain. The accusations were leveled in a complaint by Policy Council President Ashley Landess, who says she presented Wilson with potential conflicts that would arise if the House Ethics Committee investigates a complaint against Harrell.

Feb. 28, 2013: SLED confirms it has launched an investigation of Harrell.

###

Democrats in the House and Senate, for example, frequently criticize Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration and her policy moves.

But when it comes to House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Charleston Republican who is under fire for allegedly using his campaign account and office for personal gain, legislative Democrats have essentially been silent, generally not uttering a word of criticism or concern.

The reasons why lawmakers have been wary of questioning Harrell, political observers say, go back to the immense power the speaker wields over the legislative process through things such as committee appointments and the cross-party alliances formed in the lower chamber.

Harrell, who presides over the House, arguably is the most powerful elected official in South Carolina.

Several Democrats, including Reps. Harry Ott of St. Matthews and David Mack of North Charleston, describe Harrell not only as a respected colleague but also a friend. He deserves complete due process, not criticism, they said.

“I believe if there are groups out there who want to target any individual in the General Assembly, they could do that,” Ott said. “And I don’t think we should just take a group’s accusations and say it’s the truth. Everybody needs an opportunity, if somebody makes a charge against you, I think you should be given ample opportunity to respond to those charges.”

In a statement, Harrell dismissed the allegations against him.

“As is typical, political attacks and baseless mudslinging like this situation distract the media’s attention much more than it does lawmakers at the (Statehouse),” he said.

And Harrell said he has received strong support while the House is “having an incredibly productive year,” passing legislation to fix a ballot issue that caused the removal of hundreds of candidates last year and a bill to dedicate $100 million to road
funding without raising taxes.

“The outpouring of support I’ve received from folks here at home and from my colleagues in the House, particularly from House leadership, reflects that most people are seeing this for what it is, just another baseless politically motivated attack,” Harrell
said.

A place at the table

The S.C. Policy Council, a limited-government think tank, filed an ethics complaint against Harrell, alleging among other things that he has used his campaign account and legislative office to benefit himself. After meeting with the group’s leader, Attorney General Alan Wilson in February asked the State Law Enforcement Division to conduct an initial investigation of the charges.

Mack said he is not concerned about any of the questions that have arisen about Harrell. Having Harrell as the leader of the House has been a great benefit to the Lowcountry, the Democrat said, and losing him would hurt the region.

Talk to Democratic staffers and, when they’re permitted to speak without attribution, they will explain that publicly scrutinizing Harrell would be akin to criticizing your doctor just before he’s about to put you under anesthesia.

The Republicans’ majority in the House is substantial enough that the GOP can pass most legislation without any Democratic votes if Republicans vote as a united group.

Harrell is known generally for giving Democrats a place at the table, bringing them into the legislative process and letting them provide input. He is generally regarded by supporters as a pragmatist.

“He’s trying to tug the far right wing of his party to the center, and he finds himself making compromises with responsive Democrats who are willing to deal with him,” said Mark Tompkins, a University of South Carolina political scientist.

To others, Harrell is regarded as vindictive.

Harrell’s Republican peers also have voiced their support for him, though multiple lawmakers confirm that a thus-far subterranean campaign by multiple Republicans to be Harrell’s possible successor in the House already is under way. Others, such as Charleston GOP Rep. Chip Limehouse, say they have heard no such talk.

Limehouse, a Harrell ally, said the controversy surrounding the House speaker has been “a complete non-issue” in the Republican caucus.

Democratic frustration

Dick Harpootlian, the outgoing chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said he has been frustrated by the reluctance of Democratic House members to take on Harrell, but he noted that Harrell controls most committee assignments in the House.

“A number of House Democrats have indicated Harrell is a very retributive guy and they are fearful that if they do speak up, they will be kicked off committees,” Harpootlian said.

“I guess crumbs are better than nothing.”

Haley has said that when she was a House member from Lexington County, Harrell knocked her off a preferred committee because of her push for mandatory on-the-record voting. Harrell has denied Haley’s accusation.

An “unfolding story”

Unless a credible challenger to Harrell emerges or an investigation yields information or charges that make his continued leadership untenable, House members appear unlikely to stop supporting Harrell, who was re-elected to the speaker’s post late last year.

A state government watchdog group has called on Harrell to step down as speaker during the investigation, but he has rejected that request. His spokesman called the group, S.C. Common Cause, part of an effort to smear the speaker. Elections for House speaker are held every two years, but House members could attempt to change chamber rules to hold an election sooner.

Tompkins said what happens next in “an unfolding story” could depend in large part on Harrell’s relationship with his fellow House members.

“It probably turns on whether the members continue to feel OK about him or not,” Tompkins said.

If he is cleared, Harrell’s political power likely will remain intact if not grow, said Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University political scientist who runs the school’s polling operation.

“If he is exonerated, (Harrell) will be able to say, ‘My political enemies leveled attacks against me but failed,’” Huffmon said.

“While he’ll be battered during the process, he’ll come out emboldened and maybe a little empowered.”

Succession campaign?

Rep. Ralph Norman, a Rock Hill Republican who unsuccessfully ran against Harrell for the speaker’s post in 2010, said he wants to let the process play out when it comes to the investigation of Harrell before commenting on it.

Until that time, he said, it would be premature to say whether he would try to succeed Harrell as House speaker.

The next regularly scheduled speaker’s election would take place in late 2014.

Norman said there already is chatter about taking Harrell’s place.

“Are there talks among members? Oh yeah, there’s talks about a lot of things,” he said. Norman said he could see four or five Republicans who could be interested in taking over as House speaker.

Ott, the St. Matthews Democrat and former House minority leader, said he hasn’t been approached by any Republicans hoping to unseat Harrell, but noted that he likely would be one of the last members to be approached because of his friendship with the
Charleston Republican.

To Tompkins and Huffmon, it makes sense that Republicans hoping to be the next House speaker are keeping talk of their interest confined.

“You don’t take down the king until you know who’s next,” Tompkins said.

Huffmon said potential Harrell successors need to start moving early. “But if you are seen moving early and he’s exonerated, you’re going to be in for a world of hurt,” Huffmon said. “At this point, being risk-averse is probably your wisest choice.”

Comments { }

Reply
Adam March 3, 2013 at 1:55 am

>>

Talk to Democratic staffers and, when they’re permitted to speak without attribution, they will explain that publicly scrutinizing Harrell would be akin to criticizing your doctor just before he’s about to put you under anesthesia.

“A number of House Democrats have indicated Harrell is a very retributive guy and they are fearful that if they do speak up, they will be kicked off committees,” Harpootlian said.

<<

If Alan Wilson lets Harrell off the hook, he is dead meat.

The Post and Courier
Harrell investigation highlights complex Statehouse politics
By Stephen Largen
Sunday, March 3, 2013

[PHOTO] Rep.Harry Ott (left) is one of several Democrats who describe Bobby Harrell as a respected colleague and friend.

COLUMBIA — S.C. Democratic lawmakers typically have little hesitation in bashing Republican officials and their policies.

###

Harrell probe timeline

Sept. 24, 2012: The Post and Courier publishes a report detailing how Bobby Harrell reimbursed himself hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign account since 2008, much of it for flights on his private plane. Harrell does not allow the newspaper to view receipts or itemized invoices accounting for the spending.

Sept. 26, 2012: Harrell meets with an Associated Press reporter and produces documents — credit card and phone bills, hotel invoices and pay stubs — he says back up the spending. Harrell also tells the AP he has moved $23,000 back into his campaign account because he couldn’t account for the expenditures.

Oct. 9, 2012: S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson releases a statement saying the House Ethics Committee must have the first opportunity to investigate Harrell. Wilson says it is premature for his office to ask the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate Harrell. “The process must proceed as prescribed by state law,” Wilson says.

Mid-October 2012: Harrell’s office releases a formal explanation for how much his plane costs to operate, saying the speaker reimbursed himself less than the fair market value of his flights. Harrell’s accounting of how he paid himself back raises questions about the accuracy of the reimbursements and whether the money helped him subsidize some of the cost of plane ownership.

Fall 2012: Harrell’s campaign sends out a direct mail piece ahead of the November election claiming he is being attacked unfairly. “Why is Bobby Being Attacked by the Liberal Media? Because he is providing conservative leadership in SC.” Harrell’s mailer
carries similar themes to a newsletter he posted on his website and sent to supporters earlier in the fall.

Winter 2012-13: Harrell shields his flight records from public view using a Federal Aviation Administration-approved program.

Jan. 22, 2013: The S.C. Policy Council, a limited-government think tank, releases emails and correspondence to reporters dating back to 2006 when Harrell was seeking state approval to begin operating his drug-repackaging company. The group raises questions about whether Harrell sought or received special treatment for the company, which Harrell denies.

Feb. 8, 2013: The Post and Courier publishes a report detailing a $23,000 payment by a political action committee affiliated with Harrell to advertising firm Rawle Murdy. In its report to the State Ethics Commission, the PAC included a $23,000 payment to Rawle Murdy in October, describing it as an election expense. That description raised eyebrows among opponents of the project to complete Interstate 526, because Rawle Murdy rarely does electoral work. The firm worked to push the completion of the interstate. Rawle Murdy President Bruce Murdy acknowledges that he did work for the PAC, but would not say what sort of work he did, referring such questions to the PAC. The group does not respond to requests for comment, and its website is no longer available.

Feb. 8-9, 2013: The Post and Courier and the Policy Council’s reporting arm publish reports based on records showing a group of state and pharmacy officials who expressed concerns that Harrell used his political power as he sought to help his company. The records were obtained under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act. The newspaper also reported that, based on an email from a former state official, Harrell’s former legislative chief of staff played a role in 2006 when the Charleston Republican was seeking approval for the drug repackaging business.

Feb. 14, 2013: Wilson, the state attorney general, asks the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate whether Harrell used his office or campaign fund for personal gain. The accusations were leveled in a complaint by Policy Council President Ashley Landess, who says she presented Wilson with potential conflicts that would arise if the House Ethics Committee investigates a complaint against Harrell.

Feb. 28, 2013: SLED confirms it has launched an investigation of Harrell.

###

Democrats in the House and Senate, for example, frequently criticize Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration and her policy moves.

But when it comes to House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Charleston Republican who is under fire for allegedly using his campaign account and office for personal gain, legislative Democrats have essentially been silent, generally not uttering a word of criticism or concern.

The reasons why lawmakers have been wary of questioning Harrell, political observers say, go back to the immense power the speaker wields over the legislative process through things such as committee appointments and the cross-party alliances formed in the lower chamber.

Harrell, who presides over the House, arguably is the most powerful elected official in South Carolina.

Several Democrats, including Reps. Harry Ott of St. Matthews and David Mack of North Charleston, describe Harrell not only as a respected colleague but also a friend. He deserves complete due process, not criticism, they said.

“I believe if there are groups out there who want to target any individual in the General Assembly, they could do that,” Ott said. “And I don’t think we should just take a group’s accusations and say it’s the truth. Everybody needs an opportunity, if somebody makes a charge against you, I think you should be given ample opportunity to respond to those charges.”

In a statement, Harrell dismissed the allegations against him.

“As is typical, political attacks and baseless mudslinging like this situation distract the media’s attention much more than it does lawmakers at the (Statehouse),” he said.

And Harrell said he has received strong support while the House is “having an incredibly productive year,” passing legislation to fix a ballot issue that caused the removal of hundreds of candidates last year and a bill to dedicate $100 million to road
funding without raising taxes.

“The outpouring of support I’ve received from folks here at home and from my colleagues in the House, particularly from House leadership, reflects that most people are seeing this for what it is, just another baseless politically motivated attack,” Harrell
said.

A place at the table

The S.C. Policy Council, a limited-government think tank, filed an ethics complaint against Harrell, alleging among other things that he has used his campaign account and legislative office to benefit himself. After meeting with the group’s leader, Attorney General Alan Wilson in February asked the State Law Enforcement Division to conduct an initial investigation of the charges.

Mack said he is not concerned about any of the questions that have arisen about Harrell. Having Harrell as the leader of the House has been a great benefit to the Lowcountry, the Democrat said, and losing him would hurt the region.

Talk to Democratic staffers and, when they’re permitted to speak without attribution, they will explain that publicly scrutinizing Harrell would be akin to criticizing your doctor just before he’s about to put you under anesthesia.

The Republicans’ majority in the House is substantial enough that the GOP can pass most legislation without any Democratic votes if Republicans vote as a united group.

Harrell is known generally for giving Democrats a place at the table, bringing them into the legislative process and letting them provide input. He is generally regarded by supporters as a pragmatist.

“He’s trying to tug the far right wing of his party to the center, and he finds himself making compromises with responsive Democrats who are willing to deal with him,” said Mark Tompkins, a University of South Carolina political scientist.

To others, Harrell is regarded as vindictive.

Harrell’s Republican peers also have voiced their support for him, though multiple lawmakers confirm that a thus-far subterranean campaign by multiple Republicans to be Harrell’s possible successor in the House already is under way. Others, such as Charleston GOP Rep. Chip Limehouse, say they have heard no such talk.

Limehouse, a Harrell ally, said the controversy surrounding the House speaker has been “a complete non-issue” in the Republican caucus.

Democratic frustration

Dick Harpootlian, the outgoing chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said he has been frustrated by the reluctance of Democratic House members to take on Harrell, but he noted that Harrell controls most committee assignments in the House.

“A number of House Democrats have indicated Harrell is a very retributive guy and they are fearful that if they do speak up, they will be kicked off committees,” Harpootlian said.

“I guess crumbs are better than nothing.”

Haley has said that when she was a House member from Lexington County, Harrell knocked her off a preferred committee because of her push for mandatory on-the-record voting. Harrell has denied Haley’s accusation.

An “unfolding story”

Unless a credible challenger to Harrell emerges or an investigation yields information or charges that make his continued leadership untenable, House members appear unlikely to stop supporting Harrell, who was re-elected to the speaker’s post late last year.

A state government watchdog group has called on Harrell to step down as speaker during the investigation, but he has rejected that request. His spokesman called the group, S.C. Common Cause, part of an effort to smear the speaker. Elections for House speaker are held every two years, but House members could attempt to change chamber rules to hold an election sooner.

Tompkins said what happens next in “an unfolding story” could depend in large part on Harrell’s relationship with his fellow House members.

“It probably turns on whether the members continue to feel OK about him or not,” Tompkins said.

If he is cleared, Harrell’s political power likely will remain intact if not grow, said Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University political scientist who runs the school’s polling operation.

“If he is exonerated, (Harrell) will be able to say, ‘My political enemies leveled attacks against me but failed,’” Huffmon said.

“While he’ll be battered during the process, he’ll come out emboldened and maybe a little empowered.”

Succession campaign?

Rep. Ralph Norman, a Rock Hill Republican who unsuccessfully ran against Harrell for the speaker’s post in 2010, said he wants to let the process play out when it comes to the investigation of Harrell before commenting on it.

Until that time, he said, it would be premature to say whether he would try to succeed Harrell as House speaker.

The next regularly scheduled speaker’s election would take place in late 2014.

Norman said there already is chatter about taking Harrell’s place.

“Are there talks among members? Oh yeah, there’s talks about a lot of things,” he said. Norman said he could see four or five Republicans who could be interested in taking over as House speaker.

Ott, the St. Matthews Democrat and former House minority leader, said he hasn’t been approached by any Republicans hoping to unseat Harrell, but noted that he likely would be one of the last members to be approached because of his friendship with the
Charleston Republican.

To Tompkins and Huffmon, it makes sense that Republicans hoping to be the next House speaker are keeping talk of their interest confined.

“You don’t take down the king until you know who’s next,” Tompkins said.

Huffmon said potential Harrell successors need to start moving early. “But if you are seen moving early and he’s exonerated, you’re going to be in for a world of hurt,” Huffmon said. “At this point, being risk-averse is probably your wisest choice.”

Comments { }

Reply
John Cecil March 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

I would like to know exactly what Curtis Bosnic, Tim Scott, and Bobby Harrell knew about the reallocation of Chareleston County’s 2004 half cent sales tax? I voted on that tax and think it was voter fraud, as funding the 526 extension project was not listed on the ballot and the funds were reapproprated in 2005. How could this not have been planned all along to avoid listing the cost of 526? How is this not a blatant misappropriation of state funds? Read this article here, where Bob Harrell Sr help set up the deal with SIB, which his son appoints two of the board members. How could they not have known about this strategy? Read the ballot for yourself, it actually list an on ramp to be funded by the tax, but avoids putting the cost of the project on the ballot. ‘Why not bring this to the public’s attention and let them respond to the concerns? Hundreds of my neighbors will have a highway through their neighborhood. Harrell also funnelled 23k through his PAC to promote 526.

http://www.welcometokiawah.com

Reply
katlaurenscounty March 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

John if you want to protect your right to self govern you must exercise your inherent authority to rule yourself through tools established for that purpose in the rules you own (law). Our authority to be free of someone else’s rule is unalienable in each of us. It can’t be limited or impinged upon by man. IT CAN’T BE EXERCISED OR STRENGTHENED BY GROUP ACTIVITIES. The use of group power, aka political action, aka herd power, is the tool of servants. Servants have no individual authority over any citizen. The only positional and sovereign authority servants have, citizens created, by explicit delegation and limitation in our constitutions and laws. Servants like Harrell overstep our authority so casually and routinely because citizens refuse to assert inherent creator authority. We use servant tools, like ‘score cards’ and other means, to ‘influence’ the direction of the herd. A citizen’s vote doesn’t limit or redress servant abuse. Harrell has the duty to prove his activities stay within our rules (law). Assert your authority face to face. Demand the information. I will help. I have done, and am doing, this process many times with many different servants. It is like any other skill, you will get better with practice. My email at my website, laurenscountycitizenswatch. It is the only way to strengthen the true source of citizen control over servants – our unalienable authority as creator of servant authority. l

Reply
John Cecil March 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

I would like to know exactly what Curtis Bosnic, Tim Scott, and Bobby Harrell knew about the reallocation of Chareleston County’s 2004 half cent sales tax? I voted on that tax and think it was voter fraud, as funding the 526 extension project was not listed on the ballot and the funds were reapproprated in 2005. How could this not have been planned all along to avoid listing the cost of 526? How is this not a blatant misappropriation of state funds? Read this article here, where Bob Harrell Sr help set up the deal with SIB, which his son appoints two of the board members. How could they not have known about this strategy? Read the ballot for yourself, it actually list an on ramp to be funded by the tax, but avoids putting the cost of the project on the ballot. ‘Why not bring this to the public’s attention and let them respond to the concerns? Hundreds of my neighbors will have a highway through their neighborhood. Harrell also funnelled 23k through his PAC to promote 526.

http://www.welcometokiawah.com

Reply
katlaurenscounty March 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

John if you want to protect your right to self govern you must exercise your inherent authority to rule yourself through tools established for that purpose in the rules you own (law). Our authority to be free of someone else’s rule is unalienable in each of us. It can’t be limited or impinged upon by man. IT CAN’T BE EXERCISED OR STRENGTHENED BY GROUP ACTIVITIES. The use of group power, aka political action, aka herd power, is the tool of servants. Servants have no individual authority over any citizen. The only positional and sovereign authority servants have, citizens created, by explicit delegation and limitation in our constitutions and laws. Servants like Harrell overstep our authority so casually and routinely because citizens refuse to assert inherent creator authority. We use servant tools, like ‘score cards’ and other means, to ‘influence’ the direction of the herd. A citizen’s vote doesn’t limit or redress servant abuse. Harrell has the duty to prove his activities stay within our rules (law). Assert your authority face to face. Demand the information. It is the only way to strengthen the true source of citizen control over servants – our unalienable authority as creator of servant authority.

Reply
John Cecil March 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

I would like to know exactly what Curtis Bosnic, Tim Scott, and Bobby Harrell knew about the reallocation of Chareleston County’s 2004 half cent sales tax? I voted on that tax and think it was voter fraud, as funding the 526 extension project was not listed on the ballot and the funds were reapproprated in 2005. How could this not have been planned all along to avoid listing the cost of 526? How is this not a blatant misappropriation of state funds? Read this article here, where Bob Harrell Sr help set up the deal with SIB, which his son appoints two of the board members. How could they not have known about this strategy? Read the ballot for yourself, it actually list an on ramp to be funded by the tax, but avoids putting the cost of the project on the ballot. ‘Why not bring this to the public’s attention and let them respond to the concerns? Hundreds of my neighbors will have a highway through their neighborhood. Harrell also funnelled 23k through his PAC to promote 526.

Try this link, the other one was changed.

http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_theme=cpcb&p_topdoc=1&p_docnum=1&p_sort=YMD_date:D&p_docid=111F241F64F50770&p_text_direct-0=document_id=(%20111F241F64F50770%20)&p_product=CPCB

Reply
John Cecil March 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

I would like to know exactly what Curtis Bosnic, Tim Scott, and Bobby Harrell knew about the reallocation of Chareleston County’s 2004 half cent sales tax? I voted on that tax and think it was voter fraud, as funding the 526 extension project was not listed on the ballot and the funds were reapproprated in 2005. How could this not have been planned all along to avoid listing the cost of 526? How is this not a blatant misappropriation of state funds? Read this article here, where Bob Harrell Sr help set up the deal with SIB, which his son appoints two of the board members. How could they not have known about this strategy? Read the ballot for yourself, it actually list an on ramp to be funded by the tax, but avoids putting the cost of the project on the ballot. ‘Why not bring this to the public’s attention and let them respond to the concerns? Hundreds of my neighbors will have a highway through their neighborhood. Harrell also funnelled 23k through his PAC to promote 526.

Try this link, the other one was changed.

http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_theme=cpcb&p_topdoc=1&p_docnum=1&p_sort=YMD_date:D&p_docid=111F241F64F50770&p_text_direct-0=document_id=(%20111F241F64F50770%20)&p_product=CPCB

Reply
Thomas Jefferson March 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

It will all get stuffed under the rug with the State of SC government investigating itself. However, bring in Federal Agents from outside the state — Harrell ends up behind bars for years and years.

Reply
Thomas Jefferson March 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

It will all get stuffed under the rug with the State of SC government investigating itself. However, bring in Federal Agents from outside the state — Harrell ends up behind bars for years and years.

Reply
Listen U Fools March 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

This is just like SLED conducting a criminal investigation of itself. ROFLMAO!! Come on, now! Get real about all of this. Mayor Riley, Glenn McConnell, et al will indirectly protect this rogue from any criminal charges. You think they want Bobby rating them out???

Reply
Listen U Fools March 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

This is just like SLED conducting a criminal investigation of itself. ROFLMAO!! Come on, now! Get real about all of this. Mayor Riley, Glenn McConnell, et al will indirectly protect this rogue from any criminal charges. You think they want Bobby rating them out???

Reply

Leave a Comment