THE UNRAVELING OF SOUTH CAROLINA’S ATTORNEY GENERAL CONTINUES …
The very worst suspicions of those of us who follow Palmetto politics for a living continue to be confirmed with each new revelation in the unraveling scandal involving the South Carolina’s attorney general.
For those of you who missed Alan Wilson‘s worst week ever, click here …
The long and short of it? Wilson appears to be actively obstructing an ongoing investigation into public corruption at the S.C. State House – and doing so in an effort to prevent his political cronies from being indicted.
Wilson claims he’s intervening in the probe (after previously recusing himself due to unspecified conflicts) because the special prosecutor he appointed, David Pascoe, is “tainted.” However Wilson has offered absolutely no evidence to support that contention.
Now, text messages and emails obtained by The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier reveal the extent to which Wilson’s office is attempting to smear the prosecutor behind the scenes – hoping to turn the affair into a partisan scuffle, not a potentially criminal attempt to torpedo an active investigation.
“Matt, if there is a way for the party to reveal David Pascoe is Dick Harpootlian’s Mini-Me/Sock Puppet/Clone, it would be beneficial for years to come for the party,” Wilson’s top political aide Adam Piper wrote in a message to SCGOP chairman Matt Moore.
Dick Harpootlian was a former S.C. Democratic party chairman – and is widely-regarded as one of the Palmetto state’s shrewdest political operatives. Invoking his name in this context represents a transparent effort to attack Pascoe by association – “tainting” him politically in the absence of any evidence to suggest he isn’t doing his job.
“Idea for you: ‘Pascoe is tainted for other reasons. He’s a Democrat political hack and Dick Harpootlian’s mini-me who has relied on Harpootlian throughout his career,” Piper continued in his message to Moore.
“Amateur hour,” one prominent Palmetto politico told us.
Piper is a taxpayer-funded employee in Wilson’s office who makes $80,100 a year (not counting benefits). He has previously worked for the neo-Confederate political consulting empire of Richard Quinn and Associates.
Richard Quinn’s son, Rick Quinn, is one of the state lawmakers said to be at the heart of the ongoing probe. Several of its other rumored targets are clients of the “Quinndom.”
Of interest? There is a reference to “Quinn’s” participating in a planning meeting prior to last week’s disastrous press conference in which Wilson repeatedly and angrily attacked Pascoe.
It’s not clear whether that reference is to Richard Quinn, Rick Quinn or both, though.
Also alleged to have participated in that meeting? S.C. lieutenant governor Henry McMaster and lobbyist Tony Denny. Another lobbyist involved in the plotting? Former McMaster advisor Trey Walker – who was briefly an aide to governor Nikki Haley.
Walker currently lobbies for S.C. Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The explosive Post and Courier article confirms our reporting from last week …
… we’re told (Wilson) and his allies repeatedly tried to get (Matt) Moore and other party officials to engage in the fray on his behalf – hoping to turn the issue into a partisan fight.
It also further reinforces the perception that Wilson and his allies are trying to smear Pascoe for self-preserving political purposes as opposed to having any legitimate ethical grounds to call for the termination of his investigation.
“(They are) clearly trying to impede an investigation. That’s criminal,” one former state lawmaker told us, referring to the meeting to discredit Pascoe. “Whoever is the ringleader of the bunch should see jail time.”
We concur …
We would also reiterate our call for Alan Wilson to step down or be dismissed from office. At the very least, at this point it should be abundantly clear to everyone (well, almost everyone) that he cannot be trusted to impartially discharge the duties of his office.