ISSUE LEFT UNADDRESSED IN CLOSED-DOOR GOP GATHERING …
When S.C. House Republicans met for the first time this year at a closed-door caucus meeting on the state capital complex, the proverbial elephant in the room never came up. We’re referring, of course, to #ProbeGate – an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption among members of the S.C. General Assembly.
Run by S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe, #ProbeGate appears to be coming to a head … a development which has caused mass panic among members of the legislature.
There’s good reason for the alarm, too. One powerful GOP leader has already gone down in connection with this investigation, and another – S.C. Rep. Jimmy Merrill – is looking at more than six decades in prison after being slapped with a thirty-count indictment.
Will Merrill cut a deal? Good question. Also, irrespective of his case, what other legislators (or other politicos) could be facing similar consequences for their bad behavior?
Could S.C. governor Nikki Haley herself be in trouble?
While those questions swirl, the watchword from S.C. House leaders is … silence.
That’s right … there really is no watchword because nothing is being said.
During the inaugural closed-door caucus meeting of the 2017-2018 legislative session held this week in Columbia, there was nary a word mentioned about the investigation. In addressing their agenda for the year, House leaders declined to give members an update on the situation – although in fairness to them, no member of the caucus raising the issue during the two-hour gather.
That probably makes sense given the palpable fear hanging over the chamber.
“No one’s going to raise their hand and ask that kind of question because everyone will immediately think they are one of the people with something to hide,” an operative close to the caucus told us.
(Click to view)
(Via Travis Bell Photography)
Several members did approach House leaders following the meeting to discreetly ascertain the status of the investigation – but every member was told not to worry. Specifically, they were told that the investigation was confined to S.C. Reps. Jimmy Merrill (who was indicted last month) and Rick Quinn (above) – whom many suspect will be the next lawmaker to be indicted by Pascoe.
“They were told ‘this is just Quinn and Merrill – you have nothing to fear here,'” our operative source told us.
Two lawmakers have confirmed as much to FITSNews. However, sources close to Quinn tell us neither the lawmaker nor his attorneys have been informed of any pending indictment.
As was the case last fall when lawmakers were first informed of the probe, there is considerable concern within the chamber’s rank-and-file members that their best interests are not being represented by the GOP leadership – notably S.C. Speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope.
“Tommy Pope has been colluding with the investigator,” one source told us bluntly. “He has had multiple conversations with Pascoe. That’s just not okay.”
One lawmaker reiterated a prior concern that Pope and S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas have been far too willing to voluntarily release records that could conceivably implicate rank-and-file members.
Thus far these concerns have proven ill-founded, although several of the indictments against Merrill involved caucus funding arrangements that could prove problematic for some legislators – assuming how narrowly Pascoe chooses to interpret the state’s exceedingly vague (and poorly-enforced) campaign finance laws.
(For more on that, click here).
Again, stay tuned … this website has been tracking this investigation ever since we exclusively reported on its existence more than two years ago.
We will continue to do so as it approaches its climax …
(Banner via Travis Bell Photography)