CHASING THE PAPER …
A questionable loan received by S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson during his 2010 campaign is the latest paper trail being chased in #ProbeGate – the suddenly sprawling investigation into Palmetto political corruption.
And according to our sources, both prosecutors and mainstream media outlets are hot on the trail of this questionable financial transaction … which played a key role in elevating Wilson to statewide office seven years ago.
Wilson is one of several South Carolina politicians linked to embattled neo-Confederate consultant Richard Quinn – whose consulting firm, Richard Quinn and Associates, appears to be at the heard of this rapidly expanding probe.
In fact he fell on his sword last year in an apparent effort to obstruct the investigation into Quinn’s firm, known in political circles as “The Quinndom.”
According to reporter Glenn Smith of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, Wilson received a $250,000 loan from the First Community Bank of Lexington, S.C. “just five days before the filing deadline for candidates that year, drastically inflating his campaign war chest.”
The loan represented more than half of the $459,198 Wilson reported “raising” at that point for his primary campaign – which pitted him against Columbia, S.C. attorney Leighton Lord and prosecutor Robert Bolchoz.
Wilson paid the loan back two weeks later, dramatically reducing his cash on hand for the 2010 primary election – however this fact wasn’t disclosed until after he won the “Republican” primary.
In and of itself, using loans to inflate one’s campaign finance totals is not illegal. Political candidates take out loans for their campaigns all the time. But to do so, they must first put up collateral … and Wilson’s method of obtaining this particular loan has reportedly drawn the focus of special prosecutor David Pascoe, who is leading the anti-corruption investigation.
Wilson refused to tell the Post and Courier whether he received assistance in securing this loan from the chairman of First Community Bank’s board of directors, Mitch Willoughby.
Willoughby was Wilson’s former boss at the law firm of Willoughby and Hoefer. Since Wilson’s election as attorney general, his firm has raked in nearly $1.2 million from various cases in which it represented the attorney general’s office, according to Smith’s report.
That’s nice work … if you can get it.
(Click to view)
(Via S.C. Attorney General)
“The Post and Courier could not determine what Wilson had put up as collateral to secure the loan,” Smith reported.
There could be a good reason for that …
According to our sources, the paperwork associated with the securitization of Wilson’s loan is “interesting to say the least.”
Do Pascoe and his investigators have this paperwork?
“Yes,” a source close to the investigation told us.
Pascoe has received two referrals from Wilson to investigate corruption in state politics. The first referral ended with the October 2014 conviction of former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell on six ethics violations.
Wilson aggressively pushed to bring Harrell down, but when the investigation began to target some of his political allies – his tune changed.
Last March, Pascoe was preparing to convene a grand jury for the purpose of handing down indictments – efforts which were supported by S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) chief Mark Keel and presiding circuit court judge Clifton Newman.
Without offering an explanation, though, Wilson barred Pascoe access to the grand jury. Then he fired him – and tried to replace him with a different prosecutor (one who declined to take the job). Next, Wilson clumsy attempted to politicize the case – angrily attacking Pascoe’s integrity.
Pascoe took Wilson to the Supreme Court – and won.
Then he relaunched his investigation – with a vengeance.
Back in December, former S.C. House majority leader Jimmy Merrill was suspended from office after being hit with a thirty-count indictment alleging an assortment of pay-to-play schemes. Last month, former S.C. Senator John Courson was suspended from office after being slapped with a three-count indictment. Courson stands accused of illegally converting campaign cash for his personal use as part of a “kickback” scheme involving Quinn.
Quinn’s son, S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn, is a central figure in #ProbeGate – appearing along with his father in the still-secret pages of a December 2013 SLED report that serves as the basis for the ongoing investigation.
#ProbeGate has reached a higher energy level in recent weeks – including expanded evidence seizure and subpoenas, the stepped up involvement of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the addition of several Republican prosecutors to the case and (at long last) the near-daily scrutiny of the Palmetto State’s mainstream media.
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