RAISING THE STAKES …

A week ago, this website exclusively reported that those currently under the microscope in an ongoing criminal investigation of corruption at the South Carolina State House were seeking to “remove the special prosecutor who is investigating them.”

This information is now being confirmed by the mainstream media, with reporter John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper reporting that this removal request “will be aired at a public hearing Tuesday at the Richland County courthouse” before state grand jury judge Knox McMahon.

At issue?  Whether S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe should be allowed to continue his ongoing probe – which has drawn a bead on the neo-Confederate political consulting empire of veteran “Republican” advisor Richard Quinn.

Earlier this week Quinn’s son – state representative Rick Quinn – was indicted on a pair of public corruption charges and suspended from office pending the outcome of those charges.

Quinn is one of three politicians associated with his father’s powerful political empire to be accused of criminal misconduct in office.

Specifically, the former House majority leader has been accused of acting as a “lobbyist” and 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’s also been accused of steering more than $270,000 in S.C. House “Republican” Caucus funds to the political consulting firm run by his father.

Quinn has denied any wrongdoing and claimed his actions were cleared by “supervisory authorities” – citing opinions received by, among others, S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.  He has also claimed Pascoe’s investigation is politically motivated – part of an effort to defeat Wilson at the polls.

“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 the attorney general,” Quinn said in his statement.  “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.”

In addition to the political angle, Quinn has leveled a far more serious allegation against Pascoe – accusing him of illegally leaking “false information” about him to the media.

“From the day Mr. Pascoe began his investigation, there has been a constant flow of illegal leaks and false information,” Quinn said.  “He believes his authority to be unlimited and unchecked.”

 

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(Via Travis Bell Photography)

Do we think this effort to remove Pascoe will succeed?  No, we do not.

Do we think it should succeed?  No, we do not.

Furthermore, as it relates to Pascoe’s authority to pursue this case – we believe this matter has been definitively settled by the S.C. Supreme Court.

As we exclusively reported last April, Quinn’s name – and his father’s name – appeared in the pages of a December 2013 S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) report that formed the basis of this ongoing investigation.  Specifically, this report was the basis of Wilson’s referral of the case to Pascoe back in July 2015.

That referral was obviously made before all hell broke loose …

Last March, Pascoe was preparing to convene a grand jury for the purpose of handing down indictments – efforts which were supported by 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 and baselessly attacking Pascoe’s integrity.

This drama effectively killed Wilson’s once-promising political career – but more importantly it produced the Supreme Court ruling validating Pascoe’s authority to investigate.

And investigate he has … indicting Quinn along with former S.C. majority Jimmy Merrill and State Senator John Courson on public corruption charges.

Now the question is whether Pascoe has conducted his investigation in a proper manner.

Obviously we haven’t viewed Quinn’s evidence with regard to his claims of impropriety on Pascoe’s part.  No one has, because those documents are currently under seal.

We reached out to Quinn this week to see if he would be willing to discuss the upcoming hearing, but he declined to do so – citing the seal.  He referred us to his prior statement, however, and told us he was looking forward to having his day in court and having his name cleared.

To be clear: We don’t view this as anything but a last-ditch effort on the part of the accused to evade accountability for their actions – but until we see all the facts we cannot say that for certain.

More fundamentally, Quinn and all of those accused of wrongdoing in connection with this investigation not only deserve their day in court on the charges that have been filed against them – they deserve the right to explain why they believe those filing the charges may have acted improperly.

In other words they are entitled to due process in the courts – and should be entitled to due process in the court of public opinion.

Stay tuned … we look forward to bringing our readers all sides of this unfolding drama as it moves forward.

Banner via iStock

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