SC

White Collar Crime Equals No Time

BOBBY HARRELL GETS A SLAP ON THE WRIST, AS EXPECTED By LIZ GUNN || After pleading guilty to six out of nine charges of misusing campaign funds, as reported earlier today by FITS, Bobby Harrell will not be headed up the proverbial river. I’m not picking on Bobby Harrell – he…

BOBBY HARRELL GETS A SLAP ON THE WRIST, AS EXPECTED

liz gunnBy LIZ GUNN || After pleading guilty to six out of nine charges of misusing campaign funds, as reported earlier today by FITS, Bobby Harrell will not be headed up the proverbial river. I’m not picking on Bobby Harrell – he isn’t the first elected official to defraud people, and certainly won’t be the last. As a matter of fact, it is safe to assume there is more to come from this story given the details of his plea agreement.

What is confusing to me is that the punishment handed down to our elected officials seems to be no more than a slap on the wrist, most times. It’s as if to say that their public shame and “fall from grace” is punishment enough. But why?

If a woman finds a debit card lying on the ground and decides to go shopping with it, committing fraud, she would likely end up in jail. If a man gets pulled over and is found to be under the influence of alcohol, he is likely going to jail. There are a lot of people in jail right now for non-violent crimes like failure to pay child support, petty theft and vandalism.

Nearly all elected officials run on a platform of trust, accountability, transparency or other key words that apparently mean nothing once in office. Shouldn’t they actually be held to a higher standard, seeing as how they have put themselves out there as a trusted public servant? Not only have they committed crimes, they have defrauded every citizen who voted for them and / or contributed to their campaign in any way. They should be sentenced at the same level as other non-violent criminals.

I have a hard time believing that a person who has been charged with six counts of shoplifting or six counts of vandalism or six counts of just about anything is going to get off without any jail time. But Bobby Harrell, who plead guilty but maintains he did nothing wrong, will not experience life behind bars. To me, it doesn’t really matter what information he may come forward with regarding our other corrupt leaders, because it’s likely they will all be treated just like this.

Until we have legitimate prosecution of white collar criminals, not just simple probation and a “cooperation agreement”, this is the kind of behavior we can all expect from a lot of our so called leaders. Harrell’s political career may be over, but aside from that – not much has changed for him. He’ll get right back to pedaling insurance like nothing ever happened.

And that six figure dollar amount he has to be pay back? Gee, I wonder where that will come from. Perhaps he can create a bidding war for his silence.

Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, travel enthusiast, food snob, daydreamer and lifelong Gamecock fan. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.

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86 comments

Elfego October 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm

This Judge was the same one that wanted the case out of the courts. Folks,muck is so deep in Columbia it would fill up a river.

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John October 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm

He made a good deal. He is going to (hopefully) snitch on the other rats and hopefully help get another dozen people in power indicted.

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Buz Martin October 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I thought you said on another thread that you believe nobody else will be in trouble. Correct me if I’m wrong.

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John October 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I don’t think that was me. I have said multiple times that I think others will fall. Of course, after partying with T-Rav, I suppose I am capable of posting anything..

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Buz Martin October 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Well, at least you own up to it.

Puts me in mind of that famous quote from John Huston’s character in Chinatown:
“Most people never have to fact the fact that, under the right circumstances, they are capable of doing anything.

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sconset987 October 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm

The reason Harrell got a walk is he offered up something bigger than himself.That is why the prosecutors required him sign a cooperation agreement.

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????????? October 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm

So why did Ken Ard get a walk – what did he offer up? (I honestly don’t remember).

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Deo Vindice SC October 23, 2014 at 3:38 pm

A republican thing most likely. I mean we have to have all republican votes to run the state. Harrell offered nothing else, his mouth is shut, why chance the millions he stole ? I just wonder how much it was ?

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Sconset987 October 23, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I don’t think Ard offered up anything. His crime was using his own money to win election and stupidly lying about it. They just got rid of him for that. He hadn’t been in office long enough to be a valuable cooperator.

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Deo Vindice SC October 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm

So the taxpayer money for dildoes, heels, panties, etc wasn’t the problem ?

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Small correction October 23, 2014 at 3:59 pm

For Ard it was TV’s, Playstations, & dresses for his hot wife if I remember right.

You’re thinking of Ford on the dildo’s and stuff.

Deo Vindice SC October 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm

weren’t they in it together with his wife ?

Small correction October 23, 2014 at 4:30 pm

lol….not that I saw reported….not that it couldn’t have happened I suppose.

x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Harrell got off much lighter than Ard. And Ard had less charges.

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x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm

You are not experienced with these matters, obviously. Its a smoke screen, son. Smoke in your face and smoke in the faces of the public. Its already taken root that the SC Court System can never be trusted.

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well-i-am into it October 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Miss Liz, OK…whew! First off, a plea deal like this with a cooperation agreement is well worth letting off even a crook like Harrell. He has been at it for 20 years and he has a lot of information on others that will in the greater scheme of things be of immense (hopefully) benefit to bringing others to justice and unraveling the schemes for public to see. Giving the prosecution’s star witness a deal like this is done all across the world and IMHO benefits the government case. Of course, he has a very tight leash and he cannot fool around with his deal, like he did with an idiotic press statement soon after the plea. Suspended sentence is also for that purpose…in case he tries to doublecross…he the deal is off and he goes up the river. Second, the six figure amount he need to pay back better come straight from his pocket. The feds are watching and there will be no bidding wars…that is straight obstruction of justice and they all will go up the river with Harrell if there is ANY such plan.
Now…whether Pascoe made a good deal or bad deal with Harrell depends on how expansive he/feds want this to be. IMHO, if the net is cast wide…this is a good deal. If not, Pascoe may well get ready for a pie in his face and an eventless rest of his career. This is a ONCE in a LIFETIME career opportunity for Pascoe to make history in our state and to be internationally known.

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get real October 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Uh, internationally? Settle down there, Sparky.

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nitrat October 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm

If he doesn’t ‘cooperate’ with Pascoe any more than Thomas Ravenel did with the FBI and US Attorney – to the judge’s amazement – he will not tell a single thing he knows and get away with it.
I noticed he has to forfeit his campaign account. But, what about his PACs?

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well-i-am into it October 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Good point about PAC. The way I see it (or those riding Harrell see it), Harrell’s situation will be exploited in every possible way. It is a prime opportunity for people (including, feds and solicitor’s office etc) to make their careers in this setting and make name and build resume. That’s the way it always goes in high-profile cases like this. What happens to the PACs or him becoming a lobbyist in the future….all depend on how far the feds and solicitor’s office think ahead and control his future involvement in public ‘service’. That may be a federal jurisdiction. I bet there is more coming from the federal side to take care of those issues…at least to tarnish Harrell’s reputation enough or to enter into some sort of another debarment. Interesting to see the next steps.

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x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Before today’s hearing, Harrell likely moved around a lot of money from his accounts. Plea deals are cut in advance. This one likely was made early last week, giving Harrell time to move things around before today.

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Deo Vindice SC October 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm

He stole millions and wants to keep it. See Nikki, ask her.

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Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm

“I have a hard time believing that a person who has been charged with six counts of shoplifting or six counts of vandalism or six counts of just about anything is going to get off without any jail time.”

Believe it. Of course, there are mopes sitting in jail on pissant charges, but generally only because they couldn’t pay the fines. The criminal justice system is a little out of whack, no doubt, but in the *vast* majority of cases involving non-violent offenses (especially those where the state is the “victim”) first-offense defendants “pay the man” and go home after a plea deal. This is true not just here in SC, but all over the US (in varying degrees, naturally). SC DOC is broke, and they can barely afford to keep employees on the payroll and violent criminals in the box.

I’m not saying I agree or disagree with the notion that Harrell should do time, only that we can’t that if he doesn’t it somehow flies in the face of normal jurisprudence.

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well-i-am into it October 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Right said Mike…well said.

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HD October 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Exactly my thoughts when I read this. Liz could have done a better job with the facts before allowing her dudgeon to rise.

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Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Online blogger people = instant expertise in all things- fashion, dining, American jurisprudence.

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????????? October 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Online commenter = instant expert on whatever he chooses day to day since he remains anonymous.

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Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Anonymity ? incorrect. Believe me, 99.9% of what I write has my name (and an invoice) attached to it. My daily 10 minutes of Zen on FITS must remain anonymous for many reasons, most of which we all get. Don’t drive angry…

Now, as for non-violent offenders, a few minutes on the intergoogle (or in a sociology / criminology textbook) would have told you that you are still off. Many, many drug dealers and “guys who steal cars” do not receive prison time time for their first offense (the majority, actually). The reason they *eventually* end up in prison is because they’re stupid; they just don’t quit while they’re ahead. Aggregated numbers don’t tell you that, knowledge of the system tells you that. My only beef was with the simple statement / quote I pulled from your piece, and I thought I was pretty nice about it. I don’t necessarily disagree with the that society may need to revisit our position on penalties for white collar crime.

I doubt you read all of the comments on here that much, but you would notice that many of us (admittedly, not all) kinda stay in our lane. I won’t be debating anyone on state ports, restaurants, fashion, the Eckstrom thing, etc. I try to stick to foreign policy, law, and the mechanics of political campaigns.

x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Knowing your comments and rants for years, you are just the typical critic of anything and everything.

Sociopath 101 October 23, 2014 at 3:52 pm

“Don’t drive angry”

See Lizz, this is all your fault. It’s a simple misunderstanding:

“This is one of the hallmark traits of the sociopath. It means that they can do practically anything, and then act as if nothing as happened. What are you making a fuss about?”

http://datingasociopath.com/2013/03/25/sociopath-lack-of-conscience-lack-of-remorse-guilt-or-shame/

Mike is just explaining to you how it is. No need to get upset let alone argue with him.

Deo Vindice SC October 23, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Now I understand Nikki, thanks.

x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Yes. Mike is a lunatic. Everybody knows that. Including his altered personalities.

????????? October 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Half of the US incarcerated population is made up of non-violent offenders. I was trying to be nice by using shoplifters and drunk drivers…but lying, cheating and stealing isn’t really any better than a drug dealer or the guy who steals a car. And those people do go to prison.

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HD October 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I’d venture to say that very, very few non-violent first offenders end up with any prison time whatsoever. You can’t leave out the “first offender” component if you want to aptly analogize.

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????????? October 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I can leave that out, because Bobby Harrell had NINE charges. NINE. Not one.

HD October 23, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I refer you to “The First Rule of Holes.”

Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Stop…save yourself man! The natives are very sensitive today! I blew my whole 10 minutes hand holding. It was almost like real court…

HD October 23, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I know. Sometimes I just can’t help trying to fix people.

x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:37 pm

You do not know what you are talking about. You are not even an expert criminal defense attorney. And if you are a member of the bar, obviously very inexperienced.

HD October 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm

*Yawn*

x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm

She did a pretty good job. Its just that you are a bitter person about something or another.

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HD October 23, 2014 at 5:39 pm

The fact is that very, very few first time non-violent offenders serve any time in jail or prison. (Contrary to her implication below, “first offender” is generally understood to mean “first time being arrested,” irrespective of the number “counts.”) If one is going to claim, as Liz did, that there is sentencing disparity, it’s important to be sure that one is comparing apples to apples. (Fyi- I am the least bitter person you’d ever meet. If you knew anything about my life you’d understand why that is.)

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Soft Sigh from Hell October 23, 2014 at 8:31 pm

“first time being arrested”

Not “first time convicted?”

TontoBubbaGoldstein October 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Believe it.

Shoplifting, vandalism, DUI will all get you jail time…until you post bond.

Prison time…rarely.

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Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Bingo. That’s the distinction that most lay persons miss.

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nitrat October 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm

And, I don’t understand why.
One’s at the county seat and the other is a ways away.
Even journalists, who really should know better, use the terms interchangeably.

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Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 6:26 pm

I’m warning everyone in case you don’t have time to scan the comments…run! If you disagree or point out a *possible* mistake you are a big anonymous meanie who picks on girls! Save yourself and quit now (I am). I’m all outta estrogen.

Where's the argument? October 23, 2014 at 9:28 pm

What’s wrong Nancy boy? Did you forget to put your big boy pants on? Don’t be a quitter.

Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Oh, okay. This is where I bump chests with you and say “uh uh!” ;-)

I refer you to TBG’s Rule #3, to which I have learned to adhere without fail.

Night night.

What's the argument? October 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm

“I’m not saying I agree or disagree with the notion that Harrell should do time, only that we can’t that if he doesn’t it somehow flies in the face of normal jurisprudence.”

“Can’t” what?

“Pretend”? “Say”?

Assuming you meant something similar to the above, I don’t see anywhere in Liz’s write up that she’s questioning the consistency of the justice system.

She’s making the case it’s fucked up, which should be easy for most to agree with.

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Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Wow man…sorry. Big thumbs…little phone screen! I added the “say” for ya (at least I’m not driving). As I said to her, I thought I made it pretty plain that all I was doing was clarifying the one line that I pulled out. I didn’t call her mama a bad name or anything…

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What's the argument? October 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm

“I thought I made it pretty plain that all I was doing was clarifying the one line that I pulled out.”

To me, your comment suggests an argument she never made.

“I didn’t call her mama a bad name or anything…”

No, you just said, “Online blogger people = instant expertise in all things- fashion, dining, American jurisprudence.”, which in this context is not a very nice thing to say.

Just because someone isn’t an expert in something doesn’t mean they don’t get to have an opinion. Sometimes, non-experts have good opinions on their subject matter anyway despite the fact that they aren’t experts.

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x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Mike was attempting to insult Liz. That is salient.

Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 6:21 pm

I rarely *attempt* to insult anyone; I’m pretty good at the insult thing when it’s required (which it rarely is). If I had wanted to call her stupid, I would have simply called her stupid (although more artfully than that). I don’t happen to think she’s stupid; I also don’t think she knows too much about American jurisprudence, that’s all. What I did, essentially, was display the temerity to disagree, and do it was a touch of sarcasm. I had no idea sarcasm and fun had been banned on this site! My bad. Unlike some folks, I find it hard to get too torqued about the stuff that folks may say about me here. If she’s your sister / girlfriend / wife / buddy / etc., you’re going to have to understand that writing (especially online) requires big-boy pants (or big-girl panties). Namaste!

What's the argument? October 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm

The nice thing about being a sociopath is not having to say you’re sorry.

Oh wait, he said “Namaste”, with an exclamation point, so it’s all good.

Mikes Mental Health October 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

You figured out Mike, too. Good Job!

Mike at the Beach October 23, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Man, this place is full of Nancy behavior today! I’m not arguing with anyone, including you. I simply responded to a simple statement wherein the writer stated that she found something “hard to believe.” I explained that the thing should, in fact, be easy to believe. No argument, just two opinions. I have now burned up most of my 10-minute daily allotment of FITS time on this silly issue, so I must move on until tomorrow (because the pay here sucks).

TontoBubbaGoldstein October 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm

“He’ll get right back to pedaling insurance like nothing ever happened.”

Selling insurance is like riding a bicycle.

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Mark Sanford October 23, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Hell, he’ll be reelected to the house in 2018 unless he decides to wait and take lindsay’s senate seat in 2020

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Deo Vindice SC October 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm

no doubt about it

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Halfvast Conspirator October 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Hes a looser

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TontoBubbaGoldstein October 23, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Hes a looser

His rein in the House is over.

Time for someone else to take the reigns.

Left a bad taste in TBG’s palette.

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Soft Sigh from Hell October 23, 2014 at 8:24 pm

His just desserts.

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costello October 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm

“If a woman finds a debit card lying on the ground and decides to go shopping with it, committing fraud, she would likely end up in jail. If a man gets pulled over and is found to be under the influence of alcohol, he is likely going to jail. There are a lot of people in jail right now for non-violent crimes like failure to pay child support, petty theft and vandalism.”

There is a difference between jail and prison. Yes, there are people in jail on these charges, but they are typically there because they cannot afford to bond out or pay the fines. They’ll serve a month or so and be cut loose for time served. It is rare for people charged with white-collar crimes to get prison time unless they are repeat offenders. Very rare. Even those who embezzle a bunch of money. I’m not saying it is right, but it is the system we have, even for those not politically connected.

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????????? October 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I know it’s rare – that’s my point. The actions will continue as long as people know they can basically get away with it. If white collar criminals were treated like the CRIMINALS they are – maybe corrupt politicians would think twice? Maybe not. Maybe we’ll never know because it may not ever change.

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E Dubya October 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

White is the operative term.

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nitrat October 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/24/us/south-carolina-bobby-harrell-campaign-finance.html?ref=us
According to this, he made a statement afterwards that the prosecutors were mistaken. I thought judges would not accept a plea unless the defendant agreed he was guilty.
So, did Bobby perjure himself to the judge or just lie to the press?

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Bill October 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm

What he basically said was he is an innocent person coerced by the prosecutor into signing a false confession. Any prosecutor or judge who was worth his salt would call him back in, revoke the plea deal, and say buddy get your lawyer, because we are going to trial on all counts.

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Halfvast Conspirator October 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Yeah but look who the judge is — the same one who put up roadblocks the whole way, Queen Jean’s guy. The fix is in, always has been, always will be, at least until the Feds start popping Harrell and others.

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x + y + z = ? October 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Case law tells us, that is what should have happen.

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coolhandluke October 23, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Well, Liz Gunn, you must have read my post three hours ago on FITS re Harrell. Nope, those elected dishonest guvment officials are members of the “good ole elite boys club” and they tend to look after one another. Can’t remember who said it but a well-known lawyer/writer once penned that “laws were not made for the rich but to keep the poor, uneducated in line.” coolhandluke

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expensive inmates October 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I would rather not spend anymore taxpayer money on Harrell. Leave him on the street. I like the fine going to our general fund instead of the $40k+ a year we would spend on another nonviolent inmate.

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Wilson Stabbed You In Back October 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Attorney General Alan Wilson has let down the people of South Carolina. Harrell’s sentence is rock solid proof of that. The people have been played for fools, once again.

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WW October 23, 2014 at 4:08 pm

When we elect and reelect theses people over and over, no matter how bad their offenses and violations of ethics, morals, and laws are, we deserve this crap!
We need term limits and recall legislation, get them out while the info is fresh in our minds. People tend to forgive and forget in short order.
Look at Eckstrom, Haley cruising to reelection, guilty of lies, adultery, and ethics malfeasance!
Look at MarkSanford, Richard Eckstrom, Bob Peeler all guilty of lies, adultery, self serving and abuse of power and process.
Look at ken Ard. Does anyone even remember his violations?
The deaf and dumb voter is the problem for not demanding term limits and the ability to recall! If given that power, we could rectify some of this BS!

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Serious Corruption With This October 23, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Alan Wilson and the state court system today just became the biggest joke among the masses of citizens of South Carolina. The anger is spreading like wild fire now. Wilson’s trustworthiness and credibility has now been severely tarnished. There is no recovery from. So much for his future in politics. This was nothing even close to justice. This was a good old boy corrupt behind the scenes deal. You can’t convenience the voters and all the lawyers in South Carolina that it was not. They can see what this is easily enough.

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Serious Corruption With This October 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm

All trust has been lost in South Carolina government. Can’t even depend on the Attorney General anymore. The entire court system is a cesspool.

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They Spit In The Peoples Face October 23, 2014 at 5:05 pm

No fair judge would have ever accepted this plea agreement. But then, we all know Judge Casey Manning is Jean Toal’s “do boy.” And Bobby is one of Jean Toal’s best friends.

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SC Political Digest October 23, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I’d love for the same justice to be visited on you as your lust to hang Harrell.
And: We have a piece up about it on SCPSD…The whole Harrell episode is kinda of a YAWNER, except to judgmental liberals who have only hate for the people who do not think like them…
Those whining about the sentence probably are pretty ignorant of the law…

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Stick To Me Momma October 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

A yawner because he’s a lying ass Repuglicunt.

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SC Political Digest October 23, 2014 at 7:09 pm

He spent money like restrictive government laws said he could not. You’re not that feeble-minded are you…to think this is a big deal. He certainly paid more than the seriousness of the “crime.”

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Jack October 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm

He is just another corrupt Republican, let off the hook by a corrupt republican AG. Wait I guess using corrupt with Republican is redundant.

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SC Political Digest October 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm

It’s just not really that big of a deal. Campaign finance laws are pretty much there to eliminate people that you cannot beat w/ the ballot.

The stuff Obama has done, and he’s walking free…you have to be an idiot to get off on that petty crap Harrell got busted for.

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Saluda Rapids October 24, 2014 at 11:47 am

Hahahahahaha. Keep deflecting, dumbass. Your idols are going down and more to come!

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Saluda Rapids October 24, 2014 at 11:46 am

When more of your corrupt friends go down when this rat sings like a bird, you can keep on being the cliché shithead you are and bringing up the Clintons. It is not a yawner and it’s not just liberals who are celebrating the fact that some form of deserved justice is coming to these good ole boys (the class of politicians you worship). One can only hope your goddess Nikki, who has done far worse than Harrell, gets hers. You can’t see the forest through the trees (because your head is so far up your ass), but the day of reckoning is coming. Get your popcorn ready, little boy.

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Soft Sigh from Hell October 23, 2014 at 8:21 pm

“Shouldn’t they actually be held to a higher standard, seeing as how they have put themselves out there as a trusted public servant?

And a harsher sentence if convicted.

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SC Corrupt Court System October 23, 2014 at 10:33 pm

WALHALLA, S.C. — A mother who was driving drunk when she crashed, killing her two daughters, has been sentenced to a year in prison and three years of house arrest.

Prosecutors said Melissa Patton pleaded guilty to felony driving under the influence.

Authorities say Patton had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit and was driving 87 mph on a two-lane road early New Year’s Day when she lost control of her SUV.

http://www.thestate.com/2014/10/23/3762880_sc-mom-gets-1-year-for-wreck-that.html?sp=/99/205/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

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Rocky October 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

What is wrong with you. This is South Carolina. Legislators take care of themselves. They could run over children in the street and get off with a warning.

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