Bobby Harrell: Back On Top?

OR IS THE HEAT STILL ON? Powerful S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell – shrouded in scandal for the past eight months – is “feeling his oats” these days.  The subject of a high-profile public corruption investigation seems to believe his legal troubles are behind him – and he…


Powerful S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell – shrouded in scandal for the past eight months – is “feeling his oats” these days.  The subject of a high-profile public corruption investigation seems to believe his legal troubles are behind him – and he used an impromptu legislative session last week in Columbia, S.C. to reassert his authority over the lower chamber of the S.C. General Assembly.

Harrell is brimming with confidence, seemingly secure in the knowledge that the investigation into his “alleged” corruption is over – and that he has the votes to remain Speaker when the House reconvenes later this year to organize for the 2015-16 legislative session.

Not only that, our legislative sources say Harrell is actively plotting his revenge against the lawmakers he believes “turned against him” during the months of scandal.

“Major changes (are) coming,” one lawmaker told FITS, referring to the legislative committee assignments Harrell doles out to House members.  “Bobby’s wrath will be felt.”

Harrell’s optimism stems from the fact S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson decided to recuse himself from the corruption investigation – and that the grand jury investigating him appears to have expired at the end of June.

To read our recap of the latest developments in this case (i.e. what Harrell is accused of and how we wound up where we are), CLICK HERE.

Harrell’s critics aren’t deterred, though.  In fact they’re looking like cats who swallowed canaries.

For his part, Wilson has remained “stoic” according to our sources – “sublimely indifferent” to Harrell’s show of strength.  He’s also been quiet as a church mouse, with the exception of a cryptic comment offered to The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier  hinting that Harrell might be a tad over-exuberant regarding recent developments.

Harrell’s most vocal critic – the person whose complaint initiated the investigation into his activities – is also not buying the Speaker’s confident dismissal of the allegations against him.


“Bobby has thought he had this wired from day one. He’s been wrong,” said Ashley Landess of the S.C. Policy Council.

Landess added that “so far the only one talking is Harrell – the guy who claimed the (Associated Press) cleared him of all wrongdoing.”

That’s true …

Also questioning Harrell’s status is columnist Cindi Ross Scoppe of The (Columbia, S.C.) State  newspaper, who wrote a story this week riffing off of our previous reporting – which suggested close cooperation between Wilson’s office and federal investigators.

According to Scoppe, “if I were Bobby Harrell, I’d be worried about former S.C. State Board Chairman Jonathan Pinson, convicted in July of racketeering and two dozen other federal corruption counts. And even more worried about Lexington County Sheriff Jimmy Metts, indicted in June on federal corruption charges.”

“Rather than thinking I was out of the woods just because the State Grand Jury had been shut down, I’d be worried that there’s a U.S. attorney in South Carolina who apparently is quite interested in prosecuting public corruption cases,” Scoppe added.  “I’d be worried about how closely the U.S. attorney worked with Mr. Wilson on the Metts case, with state charges against the sheriff’s alleged co-conspirators being brought in conjunction with the federal charges against the sheriff.”

According to Scoppe, if she were Harrell “I’d be worried that a federal grand jury has even more investigative powers than the State Grand Jury — and that the U.S. attorney doesn’t have to get the permission for each step of his investigation from judges who are elected by the Legislature.”

All good points …

Sources close to Harrell continue to dismiss the allegations against him as politically motivated – but they say they’ve never led anyone to believe the case is “over.”

“We are just glad that a prosecutor who isn’t politically motivated is handling the case,” a source close to Harrell told FITS, referring to Wilson.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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Jeffy01 September 3, 2014 at 9:27 am

When you swing at the king…. You better kill him. The Don Quixote Policy Council has been jousting at windmills for decades…never found a dragon yet.

The Colonel September 3, 2014 at 10:12 am

And in my obligatory literary comment of the day – Don Quixote thought the windmills were giants not dragons.

The SC wrecking ball September 3, 2014 at 9:27 am

Harrell is riding the tax payer like Ron Jeremy rides a wrecking ball:

HD September 3, 2014 at 9:32 am

Said it before and will say it again – The bottom line has always been that if the most serious issue is failing to properly report/document expense records for use of campaign funds for air travel, this was never going anywhere. There are two questions to be answered when reviewing those reimbursements: Was the travel related to either campaigning activities or performing the duties of his office; and were the appropriate records kept and reported? If the answer to both is “yes,” even if the reports had to be supplemented in order to be compliant, there isn’t even a civil violation, to say nothing of a criminal act. I have yet to see anything in the public domain that suggests a real problem for Harrell.

Question September 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

Do you think public servants should be obligated to travel on the taxpayer dime in the most cost effective way possible?

HD September 3, 2014 at 9:44 am

Harrell is using campaign funds, not “taxpayer” funds. The money is given voluntarily and implicitly with the knowledge that it might be used in any legal manner (which would include office or campaign related travel). If we were dealing with taxpayer money I’d say that it should be spent in the most efficient (slightly different from “cost effective” way possible.

Question September 3, 2014 at 10:10 am

Fair enough.

OhShitBobby September 3, 2014 at 9:47 am

My girlfriends best friends baby daddy says that Judge Manning has a little “booger sugar” problem. Well anyway, street committee says that the feds have had wire taps up for quite some time. Seems that this “booger sugar” tends to make people talk a lot and sometimes even grind there teeth when they should just stfu.

Street committee says that the feds got Wilson to back off. Something about cleaning the “house” with one sweep of the broom. (pun intended)

Bryan Wqsc Crabtree September 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Harrell represents EVERYTHING that is wrong with politics in South Carolina.

Mary September 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Republicans represent everything that is wrong with politics in SC. They are all corrupt.

The Colonel September 3, 2014 at 11:54 pm

You have heard of Enos Clyburn haven’t you? Republicans have no lock on corruption

Rocky September 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Back on Top!!!! Maybe he’s on top of Jenny????

nitrat September 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Sounds like the idiots in the SCGOP House caucus need a good union organizer to come in and remind them, that like the voters can send them home, legislators can put Bobby on the back bench to live out the remainder of his political career.
You have nothing to lose but your chains, boys and girls. Elect a new speaker.

fitsnews = E!news September 4, 2014 at 1:31 pm

You have a really cute gossip column here. Backing up literally ANY of the claims you have on this website with concrete proof, or an outside news link, would probably make this website less of a joke. I guess you are catering to people who only read one news source anyways so screw it! Why write factual articles when people will eat this bullshit up? It is just good business I guess. Sad to see you’ll be filed in the same cabinet with others before you too scared to confront the legislature directly. Hope you can sleep at night.

tiffany October 4, 2014 at 10:56 pm

HA HA HA no y’aint


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