OPERATION “LOST TRUST II?”
A quarter century after Operation Lost Trust snared seventeen South Carolina lawmakers in a sweeping public corruption sting, sources tell FITS another major bust is about to go down under the S.C. State House dome.
Federal investigators are currently conducting a probe of “multiple” current and former members of the S.C. General Assembly, sources familiar with the investigation tell FITS.
Also, two lawmakers who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to FITS that they have received calls regarding the probe.
What are they looking for?
The probe is said to focus on two areas – misuse of campaign funds and abusing one’s public office for personal gain. It’s not immediately clear how many state lawmakers are being investigated – or whether the list includes powerful S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, who suspended himself from office last week after he was indicted on nine counts of public corruption.
FITS has been able to independently confirm that Harrell – who is still receiving GOP support in the wake of his indictment – has been interviewed at least once by federal officials.
Lawmakers habitually use their campaign accounts for personal purposes – or they find creative ways to “reimburse” themselves from their campaign accounts. In 2012, S.C. Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned after being indicted on a cash-for-contributions scam exposed exclusively by FITS. That investigation uncovered multiple instances of personal items being purchased with campaign money.
Meanwhile Harrell’s indictment involves – among other things – questionable travel reimbursements filed on his state campaign disclosure forms. Also Brian White – the chief budget writer in the S.C. House – has some campaign finance issues which were glossed over in 2011 by the same corrupt legislative “ethics” panel that whitewashed Gov. Nikki Haley‘s corruption case in 2012.
So … which lawmakers will be getting pinched? Stay tuned … we’ll let you know as soon as we learn more.