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Suspended SC Senator Mulls Exit Strategy

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SPECIAL ELECTION AHEAD?

Suspended South Carolina State Senator John Courson is mulling his “exit strategy” from politics after being indicted earlier this year on corruption charges.

Multiple sources familiar with Courson’s thinking say a decision on his future could come within the next few weeks.  Many suspected Courson would step down at the conclusion of 2017 legislative session earlier this month, however we’re told he doesn’t want to step down until he’s resolved his legal issues.

Courson, 72, had already decided against seeking reelection to the State Senate in 2020.  According to sources close to the veteran “Republican” politician, he’s been dealing with several serious health issues in recent months – including a recurrence of skin cancer.

Supporters of Courson tell us there is general agreement that he needs to cut a deal with prosecutors as quickly as possible so that he can focus on his health.

Courson has represented S.C. Senate District 20 (map) since 1985.  From 2012 to 2014 he was president of the State Senate, a job he relinquished to avoid having to become lieutenant governor.

“His fight is gone,” one of Courson’s colleagues in the State Senate told us recently.  “He’s lost his will to fight for this.”

According to indictments unsealed back in March, Courson routed nearly a quarter of a million dollars through his campaign account to a company run by his political consultant, neo-Confederate “Republican” Richard Quinn.  Roughly half of that money was then allegedly funneled back to Courson via “multiple transactions” totaling more than $130,000.

Courson – an insurance agent – has steadfastly maintained his innocence and vowed to fight the charges, although we’re told his resolve may be fading.

In the event Courson were to step down, his resignation would trigger a special election for his seat – one of the rare “swing districts” in South Carolina’s heavily gerrymandered S.C. General Assembly.  Courson’s district is also located in a major media market, meaning the race to replace him would likely be a high-profile, costly endeavor.

Who might seek Courson’s seat?

Stay tuned … we’ll have a post addressing that speculation soon.

This website has often disagreed with Courson on matters of public policy, but we’ve always liked and respected him immensely on a personal level.  Frankly, we find it hard to believe Courson would have knowingly violated the law – but the indictments against him were damning.

As with all of those accused of wrongdoing in connection with the ongoing #ProbeGate investigation – led by S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – Courson is innocent until proven guilty and entitled to due process.  We also wish him and his family the best as they deal with his health issues.

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