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S.C. State House Probe: The Latest

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INVESTIGATION ONGOING, EVEN IF BUZZ ISN’T …

|| By FITSNEWS || After building to a crescendo last month, the buzz at the S.C. State House regarding a joint federal-state investigation into legislative corruption has all but evaporated.

Indictments once seen as imminent are now barely discussed … while the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Carolina (one of the agencies responsible for conducting the investigation) appears to be searching for new leadership.  Also S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson – whose office is also conducting the “probe” – is facing growing skepticism from reformers who cheered him on in 2014 as he helped bring down former Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell on ethics charges.

To be clear we haven’t criticized Wilson … yet … we’ve simply pointed out his work isn’t done.

S.C. Reps. Brian White and Bill Sandifer, for example, having glaring ethical issues (HERE and HERE) requiring attention … and of course there’s plenty of unfinished business hanging out there related to governor Nikki Haley.

There’s also judicial election scandals aplenty … multi-million dollar boondoggles tied to influential Congressmen … and a rigged 2012 election in Richland County that deprived taxpayers there of $1.2 billion.

Scandal is in abundant supply, in other words … but there’s been (and continues to be) a glaring shortage of accountability.

What gives?  Is the indictment of Harrell really the end of the road for South Carolina’s anti-corruption cops?   And were all those reports of another “Lost Trust” – a reference to the 1990 investigation that brought down seventeen corrupt legislators – nothing but ill-founded rumors?

Reformers are crestfallen … but ready to redouble their efforts.

“As long as we kept pressure up, they had to act.  We were in their face – and offices – constantly,” one well-placed anti-corruption leader told FITS.  “Now we trust them to finish it and they backtrack.  Not good.  And fair or not, it’ll ultimately be on Alan (Wilson).  If White and Sandifer and others get a pass, he’ll lose credibility.”

Indeed …

“If Alan doesn’t want to do it, others might just step up,” the leader added.  “Don’t care who – but someone needs to finish the job.”

Damn …

ALAN WILSON

ALAN WILSON

FITS can confirm that – as of this writing – the probe is ongoing.  Investigators continue to gather evidence, interview witnesses and actively seek criminal indictments against those who broke the law.  And yes, sources close to the investigation tell us multiple state lawmakers remain in the crosshairs.

Unfortunately the current focus of the investigation – at least to the extent we can divine it – is more on the cabal of consultants who went after Wilson (ostensibly at Harrell’s behest) than it is on exposing rampant misdeeds in the legislative branch.

How come?  According to our sources, “it’s personal.”

“You gotta remember these people – they went after his wife,” a source close to Wilson tells FITS, referring to hospital executive and former television reporter Jennifer Miskewicz Wilson.  “They are dead to him.”

Specifically, we’re told this facet of the probe is exploring alleged cash payments made to various consultants from the Palmetto Leadership Council – a political action committee (PAC) affiliated with Harrell.  This money is said to have subsidized a vast character assassination operation aimed at discrediting Wilson – who ultimately permitted solicitor David Pascoe to take the lead in investigating Harrell.

Look, we’re glad Wilson is pursuing this line of inquiry.  If illegal payments were made from Harrell’s PAC … to anyone … then the individuals responsible should pay the price for their actions.

What can’t happen, though?

We’ll spell it out for you (and him): Wilson cannot, cannot, cannot, cannot round up a bunch of low-level wanna-be political operatives (who oh-by-the-way did a ridiculously ham-fisted job of trying to smear the A.G. and his wife) … and call it a day.

Indictments of pretend players on charges related to a failed personal vendetta … those are all well and good … but successfully pursuing and prosecuting them does not a “victory over corruption” secure.

Someone needs to finish the job …

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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