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State House Probe Back In The News

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FORMER “MAJORITY” LEADER, ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER FIRE

|| By FITSNEWS || It was a terrible weekend for former S.C. “majority” leader Jimmy Merrill (above) and state attorney general Alan Wilson.

According to a story published by reporter John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, Merrill is one of several state lawmakers referenced in a heavily redacted S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) report on legislative corruption.

Meanwhile Wilson is facing fresh allegations that his “investigation” of this corruption isn’t exactly on the level.

Surprised?

You shouldn’t be if you’ve been following our coverage of this ongoing mess …

The probe” – exclusively unearthed by this website last September – brought down former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell last October.  The powerful legislative leader resigned his office after pleading guilty to six ethics violations – receiving three years of probation, hefty fines and a ban on seeking office for the duration of his punishment.

Harrell also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as their investigations moved forward … well, to the extent the investigation has moved forward.

Merrill was one of the lawmakers we mentioned in the aftermath of the Harrell resignation.  He’s also closely affiliated with the politicos rumored to be at the heart of Wilson’s latest recusal from the probe.

“At least some of the members under the probe’s microscope are affiliated with the neo-Confederate political empire of Richard Quinn and Associates – which manages the political destinies of numerous state lawmakers and elected officials, including Wilson,” we wrote last month.

ALAN WILSON

ALAN WILSON

Monk’s piece is the first mainstream media treatment of the growing discontentment with Wilson’s conflicted pursuit of “justice” in this case. Specifically, it questions why Wilson waited ten months to have SLED turn over its redacted report to S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – who has been tasked with investigating those corruption cases in which Wilson has a conflict.

Wilson’s office told Monk that SLED needed that time to conduct “additional investigation” into allegations against lawmakers, although it’s not immediately clear what the agency was looking into – or why so much time was needed.

The “probe” is rumored to focus on four main areas: 1) The misuse of campaign funds by members, 2) The abuse of public offices for personal gain, 3) Vote-trading (or vote-selling) tied to various judicial elections and 4) The activities of various legislative political action committees – or PACs used by powerful lawmakers to keep rank-and-file members in line.

Where do things go from here?

Good question.

Some sources say the “probe” is effectively over – that no further indictments are likely to be handed down against any elected officials.  Other sources insist we’re looking at another “Lost Trust,” referring to the 1990 investigation that brought down seventeen corrupt legislators.

We believe the truth is probably somewhere in between …

One thing is clear, though: Despite his protestations to the contrary, Wilson’s credibility as a prosecutor of public corruption is at an all-time low.  In fact, it’s looking increasingly as though his dogged pursuit of Harrell last year – while necessary and justified – may have been less about accountability and more about clearing an upward path for his political cronies.

Even though many of them may have been guilty of far more egregious violations than anything Harrell ever did …

We hope that’s not true, but with each new revelation about Wilson’s recusals and delays … the worse he looks in all of this.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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