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#ProbeGate: Grand Jury Meets Again




South Carolina’s statewide grand jury is in session for the second time in as many months, sources familiar with the case tell FITSNews.

The purpose of its deliberations?  #ProbeGate – the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption at the S.C. State House.

Last month, this website exclusively reported on the star chamber’s latest deliberations – which appear to be zeroing in almost exclusively on the political empire of neo-Confederate consultant Richard Quinn and his son, S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn.

In fact just last week The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper picked up on the exposure of Quinn’s empire – known as “The Quinndom” – noting the two Republicans were “named in a state investigative report about possible corruption at the State House.”

That’s true …

In fact, that story broke on this website nearly a year ago.

As the investigation advances, pressure is being brought to bear on special prosecutor David Pascoe – who received the case in July 2015 as a referral from scandal-scarred S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.

In fact, several GOP leaders who have previously supported Pascoe’s efforts tell us they are eager for his investigation to wrap up.

“I think there’s a sense this needs to end soon,” one GOP lawmaker told us.

Another put it more bluntly.

“He needs to sh*t or get off the pot,” the lawmaker said.

Pascoe’s allies accuse Wilson of being responsible for the delays – citing his high-profile (and ultimately failed) attempts to sidetrack the investigation last year.  Wilson – who may be a target of the probe himself – has been obstructing its efforts as recently as this year, sources close to the investigation tell us.

The probe has been silent since last December, when S.C. Rep. Jimmy Merrill was slapped with a detailed thirty-count indictment covering a wide range of alleged pay-to-play offenses – which, collectively, could land him in jail for more than six decades.  The breadth and depth of the Merrill indictment – and the specter of additional charges to come against him – shook the S.C. State House to its very foundations.

As of this writing, Merrill – who was immediately suspended from office – is still refusing to cooperate with prosecutors.

Prior to the Merrill indictment, the probe ensnared former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell.  After pleading guilty to six ethics violations in October 2014, Harrell resigned his office, received three years of probation and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors – which he has done.

What’s next for the investigation?

According to our sources, Pascoe has as many as five S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigators working on the case full-time – in addition to his prosecutorial staff.  As to the hotly disputed scope of his probe, we’re told once he wraps up the investigation into the subjects of his original referral, he will publish all of the evidence and let the public do with it as it sees fit.  At that point, we’re told S.C. Rep. Mike Pitts – chairman of the S.C. House ethics committee – is ready to take action on those cases Pascoe either didn’t (or couldn’t) prosecute due to the limitations of his referral.

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