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#ProbeGate: Rick Quinn Indicted




S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn has been indicted in connection with #ProbeGate – an ongoing criminal investigation into public corruption at the S.C. State House.

The “Republican” lawmaker and former majority leader of the S.C. House of Representatives has been charged with one count of common law misconduct in office and one count of statutory misconduct in office.  The first count carries with it a possible ten year prison sentence, while the second count carries with it a one-year jail term.

Specifically, Quinn is accused of failing to report more than $4.5 million worth of payments received from a host of special interests between January 1999 and April of this year.  He is also accused of steering more than $270,000 in S.C. House “Republican” Caucus funds toward a political consulting firm run by his father, veteran neo-Confederate political consultant Richard Quinn.

The indictment also accuses Quinn of acting “as a lobbyist while holding office in the South Carolina House of Representatives,” seeking to “influence the action or vote of members of the South Carolina General Assembly by direct communication on behalf of entities which employed, retained or appointed (Quinn’s) business.”

In a statement issued shortly after the indictments were made public, Quinn reiterated his previous claims that he has “done nothing wrong.”

“I have conducted myself in an honorable manner, and I look forward to clearing my family’s good name,” he said.

According to Quinn, he and his father are being targeted based on their allegiance to S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson, whose job they believe is coveted by solicitor David Pascoe – a Democratic prosecutor who is overseeing the investigation.

“My family and I have been targeted by Mr. Pascoe because of a political feud between the Republican attorney general and a partisan Democrat who wants to be attorney general,” he said. “Since 2010, Mr. Pascoe has twice started campaigns to run against the attorney general. It is my belief that this public fight between them is the real motivation since I have worked for the attorney general’s past political campaigns.”

Here are the indictments …

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“At this point in the process, the indictments are mere accusations,” Pascoe said in making the announcement.  “Mr. Quinn is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Pascoe stressed that his investigation was “ongoing” and as such declined to provide “further comment regarding this matter.”

Here is Pascoe’s full statement …

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Leaders in the S.C. House of Representatives tell us Quinn has been suspended from office pending the resolution of the charges against him.  Such suspensions are automatic under the law.  In fact, he’s the third state lawmaker to be suspended in connection with this investigation in the last six months.

#ProbeGate has already brought down powerful former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, who resigned from his influential position in October 2014 after pleading guilty to six ethics charges.  Harrell has since turned state’s evidence, and is cooperating with investigators.

Incidentally, it was Harrell’s refusal to appoint the younger Quinn to an influential legislative committee post that served as the impetus for this entire drama.  Those who sought to oust the powerful GOP leader – and who were ultimately successful in doing so – soon found themselves badly exposed, though.

The hunters became the hunted, in other words.

Last December, former S.C. House majority leader Jimmy Merrill – a Quinn ally – was suspended from office after being hit with a thirty-count indictment alleging an assortment of pay-to-play schemes.  In March, former S.C. Senator John Courson was suspended after being slapped with a three-count indictment which accused him of illegally converting campaign cash for personal use as part of a “kickback” scheme with Quinn’s father.

Both Quinns were named in the pages of a December 2013 S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) report that served as the basis for this ongoing investigation.  More recently, their offices were reportedly raided in connection with this probe earlier this year.

(Click to view)

(Via Travis Bell Photography)

Quinn, 51, has represented S.C. House district 69 (map) since 2011.  Prior to that he represented S.C. House district 71 (map) from 1989-2004.

#ProbeGate is clearly just beginning to ramp up.  As we reported exclusively earlier this year, agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are said to be actively involved in the investigation – and early last month it was reported that three Republican solicitors had come on board to assist Pascoe in managing the probe.  There are also rumors of immunity deals being struck with multiple witnesses.

Of interest?  The indictments against Quinn were handed down just days after this website exclusively reported on the latest effort to oust Pascoe from his role as special prosecutor.

How’d the first effort end?  Not well for those currently facing the music …

The indictments also came just days after longtime Quinn client Henry McMaster – who recently ascended to the governor’s office – reversed his previous decision and decided to (belatedly) sever his three-decade association with Quinn’s firm.

Banner via Travis Bell Photography