GOP MEMBERS DEMAND ANSWERS FROM LEADERSHIP …
Rank-and-file “Republican” members of the S.C. House of Representatives are demanding answers from their leaders in the wake of our recent reporting about an ongoing anti-corruption investigation at the S.C. State House.
Specifically, members are upset that they have been kept “out of the loop” regarding a massive discovery request sent to House GOP leaders by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
The request seeks an “expansive amount of material,” one lawmaker told us.
Another claimed the document production request – which was issued in conjunction with the ongoing probe of alleged legislative corruption led by S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – amounted to a “declaration of war against the GOP Caucus.”
Others accused Pascoe of straying from the parameters of the original investigation in an effort to score political points.
“He’s gone well outside the bounds of his statutory authority as designated by the attorney general,” one GOP lawmaker from the Midlands region of the state told us upon being informed of the breadth of SLED’s request.
Members seem to be most upset, though, that several of their top leaders – including Speaker pro tempore (and former solicitor) Tommy Pope – have appeared exceedingly eager to cooperate with Pascoe’s probe.
“The House Republican leadership is blindly following the direction of a speaker pro tempore more focused on gubernatorial ambition than protecting dozens of vulnerable House members from a partisan political witch hunt,” a source close to several Upstate GOP lawmakers told us.
Wow … them’s fightin’ words!
These members are reportedly quite concerned that they will somehow be ensnared by the disclosure of records unrelated to the original parameters of the investigation.
The source went on to accuse Pope of invoking “the Haley playbook,” of trying to position himself as “some super transparent crusader against legislative corruption.” That’s a reference to S.C. governor Nikki Haley, who ran against legislative opacity in 2010 as a gubernatorial candidate only to habitually embrace such secrecy once she had arrived on the statewide stage.
Pope is one of two announced GOP gubernatorial candidates.
Haley benefited from a legislative whitewash of her misdeeds back in 2012, incidentally – one of many “selective enforcement” fiascos that have contributed to the current public clamor for accountability.
Given the high-profile nature of this case, few expect Pascoe’s probe to end with a dud. But how many lawmakers does he intend to indict? And on what grounds?
Lawmakers are exceedingly nervous about that …
“How many of the more than thirty, unsuspecting innocent legislators whose reputations Pope is gambling with are prepared to have their names unnecessarily sullied?” the source asked. “If you ask me, the so-called Speaker pro tem isn’t speaking for anyone but himself these days.”
Pope has affirmed his closeness to Pascoe – as well as the state’s other fifteen solicitors. He’s also stated that “anyone engaging in potentially criminal activity” ought to be held accountable for it.
We agree …
As we noted in our previous coverage, we hope this investigation casts a wide net – and we believe the House ought to comply fully and immediately with whatever discovery requests it receives.
After all, it’s obvious self-dealing is rampant at the S.C. State House – which is why lawmakers have fought so hard to preserve their notorious capacity for self-policing. And their exemptions from transparency.
Having said that, we’ll be very interested to see the extent to which Pascoe is statutorily authorized to investigate beyond the scope of his initial referral (i.e. the lawmakers S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson claimed he could not prosecute due to undisclosed conflicts of interest).
Stay tuned …
(Banner image via Travis Bell Photography)