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#ProbeGate: Two Ex-Lawmakers Called Before Grand Jury




A pair of former South Carolina lawmakers were among those summoned to appear before a statewide grand jury investigating public corruption, sources familiar with their testimony told FITSNews.

Former S.C. Reps. Tracy Edge and Thad Viers both appeared before the panel on Wednesday afternoon, we’re told.  Neither ex-lawmaker was immediately available for comment after their testimony – nor were their attorneys.

Edge represented S.C. House District 104 (map) in Horry County from 1996-2014.  He was defeated in a GOP primary race nearly three years ago.  Viers represented S.C. House district 68 (map) in Horry County from 2002 until 2012.  He resigned his seat in March of 2012 prior to being indicted on harassment charges related to his toxic relationship with Candace Bessinger – the granddaughter of South Carolina barbecue magnate Maurice Bessinger.

Viers later pleaded guilty to those charges and served sixty days in jail.  More recently, he served fifteen months in a federal prison on a money laundering charge.  He was released a month-and-a-half ago.

Both Edge and Viers have previously been linked to the “Coastal Kickback,” a brazen pay-to-play scam in which hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions were funneled through a shadowy network of corporations to select politicians (ostensibly in exchange for their support of a local tax hike).

No charges were ever filed in connection with that racket, although one of the alleged participants in the scam – Myrtle Beach, S.C. attorney Shep Guyton – is facing a host of ethics violations.

According to his attorney, Viers’ refusal to testify in connection with that case is one of the reasons he went to jail.  Had he rolled on his friends, he could have received a lesser sentence.

So … what did special prosector David Pascoe want with these two ex-legislators?  What is their connection to the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption at the S.C. State House?

According to our sources, Edge and Viers both have knowledge of certain “cash for votes” scams allegedly conducted by (or under the auspices of) the neo-Confederate political consulting empire of Richard Quinn.  Quinn and his son, S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn, are currently the focus of Pascoe’s probe – stemming from their names appearing in the still-secret pages of a December 2013 S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) report.

That’s another scoop that broke exclusively here on FITSNews.

The probe has been silent since last December, when S.C. Rep. Jimmy Merrill was slapped with a 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.

Prior to Merrill, 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 in this case?  Who knows …

Grand jury proceedings in South Carolina are secret.  They are held to determine whether sufficient evidence exists for individuals to be indicted on criminal charges – not whether the individuals under the microscope are guilty or innocent.

Our guess?  More indictments are imminent …

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