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TICK-TOCK, TICK-TOCK …

The specter of looming indictments hangs over the S.C. State House like an ominous storm cloud, turning the typically festive atmosphere accompanying the reconvening of the S.C. General Assembly (a.k.a. taxpayer-funded adult daycare) into an uneasy calm before an as-yet-unknown storm.

Last month, a sweeping set of indictments against S.C. Rep. Jimmy Merrill – who has since been suspended from office – hinted at the breadth and depth of the investigation being run out of the office of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe.

This probe – exclusively unearthed more than two years ago by this website – has already brought down powerful former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell (who turned state’s evidence after resigning office in October 2014).  It threatened to do even more damage last year, until S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson essentially torpedoed his political career in an effort to shut it down.

That effort failed … and now the relaunched investigation has Palmetto politicos sweating through their suits on cold January mornings that are traditionally reserved for glad-handing (and money-wasting).

Who is the next target of the probe?  Many suspect the hammer will soon fall on S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn, who along with his father – neo-Confederate Republican strategist Richard Quinn – was reportedly named in the redacted pages of a S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) report on alleged corruption at the State House.

That document – which we expounded upon in this exclusive coverage – is what formed the basis of the charges recently filed against Merrill.  In addition to the names contained in the still-secret SLED pages, FITSNews has been leaked the names of numerous other lawmakers rumored to be exposed by the investigation.  We’ve also been told the probe could create problems for other prominent Republicans … including one soon-to-be-former governor who narrowly avoided trouble four years ago for conduct eerily similar to Merrill’s indictable alleged offenses.

Which leads us to the key question: What is the true size and scope of #ProbeGate?

Some lawmakers believe Pascoe’s investigation is a witch hunt targeting dozens of GOP lawmakers for relatively insignificant campaign finance violations.  Others believe the probe is more narrowly-defined – intended to hold several former S.C. House Republican caucus leaders accountable for their self-serving behavior.

So far we’ve seen evidence suggesting it could perhaps be a little of both.

One thing is for sure, though … we’re about to find out.  Very soon.

“I keep hoping Pascoe rolls the paddy wagon up to the State House and rounds people up like an old gangster movie,” one prominent Republican told us.

He’s certainly got no shortage of targets.

Seriously, throw a rock in that building and you’re going to hit someone guilty.

Since breaking this story wide open back in September of 2014, our website has covered every twist and turn of #ProbeGate.  Generally we’ve cheered Pascoe on, but we’ve also done our best to hold him accountable as well.  Count on us to continue to do so as the investigation now appears to be moving quickly into its most public phase.

(Banner via iStock)

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