A LOOK AT THE SUPREME COURT’S TROUBLING LACK OF URGENCY IN RESOLVING STATE HOUSE CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION …
We like to brag when our sources hit the nail on the head … as they almost always do.
In fact, over a year-and-a-half ago we were the first website in the state to reveal the existence of an ongoing joint federal-state investigation into public corruption at the S.C. State House. And we’ve been breaking news related to that investigation ever since.
But let’s be blunt: Our sources missed the mark completely when they advised us weeks ago that a ruling was imminent in the high-stakes legal battle between S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson and first circuit solicitor David Pascoe.
Apparently this much-anticipated ruling wasn’t imminent then … nor is it imminent now.
In fact, the S.C. Supreme Court won’t even hear oral arguments related to this case until June 16 – a stunning lack of urgency that not only raises troubling timing considerations, but calls into question the court’s ability to render an impartial verdict.
We wrote earlier this month pressing the court to rule swiftly – arguing that the facts of the case were clearly in Pascoe’s favor and that any delay would only empower those facing indictment to continue their bad behavior.
“Given the high profile and huge stakes associated with this case, the court has absolutely no reason – and no excuse – to drag its feet in issuing an opinion,” we noted. “In fact, every day the justices delay their decision, public faith in the integrity of the process evaporates further. That’s wrong no matter where you live … but it is especially unfortunate in South Carolina, a state where the transgressions of those in power are routinely ignored or whitewashed.”
Indeed. Not only that, the pleadings in this case were so clearly in Pascoe’s favor that our network of sources expected the high court to rule quickly and decisively on their merits.
That’s obviously not going to happen.
The court is dragging its feet on this decision, plain and simple. And by doing so, they are enabling some of the politicians at the heart of the investigation – including S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn – to participate in next month’s primary elections without possible indictments hanging over their heads.
One of our sources called this precise scenario weeks ago … we just didn’t listen.
“I have a hunch the court will not hear arguments until after the June 14 primary,” the source said, predicting that S.C. Supreme Court justice Costa Pleicones was protecting Quinn, one of his political allies.
We certainly hope that’s not the reason behind this delay, but it’s difficult to argue with that assessment given that the court is now further postponing an investigation that should have yielded indictments months ago.
What a sad, strange trip it has been …
After blocking the empaneling of a grand jury in late March, Wilson fired Pascoe that same week and attempted to replace him with a different prosecutor (one who declined to take the job). His office then clumsy attempted to politicize the case – while Wilson angrily (and baselessly) attacked Pascoe’s integrity.
What prompted such a desperate gambit?
Most believe Wilson is acting in the interests of Quinn and his the father, influential “Republican” neo-Confederate consultant Richard Quinn. Both Quinns were mentioned in redacted sections of a 2013 S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigative report into State House corruption – a report that many believe served as the basis for the ongoing investigation.
Both Quinns are key Wilson allies … not to mention advisors to other powerful politicians.
Now the Supreme Court is essentially affirming Wilson’s obstructionism … even though Pascoe, a presiding circuit court judge and SLED chief Mark Keel all looked at the evidence and agreed that a grand jury should have been convened back in March in this case.
Wilson has twice recused himself from this ongoing probe – and twice appointed Pascoe as his “designee.”
In the first instance, Pascoe stood in Wilson’s shoes and successfully prosecuted former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell – resulting in the powerful politician stepping down from his lofty office and pleading guilty to six ethics charges.
He should be allowed to finish his work free from Wilson’s politically-motivated meddling.