LEGAL … BUT STUPID
The South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) gave embattled attorney general Alan Wilson $50,000 on the final day of the most recent campaign finance reporting period. This last-minute cash infusion helped Wilson stave off what would have otherwise been an unmitigated disaster on the fundraising front – although our guess is the money won’t make a dent in his long-term prospects.
Touted at the beginning of last year as a likely frontrunner for governor of the Palmetto State, Wilson will be lucky to hang onto his current job given his epic implosion a year ago – and given his ongoing proximity to the criminal investigation he has repeatedly attempted to obstruct.
No wonder there is an all-hands-on-deck effort to fill his campaign war chest …
Where did this latest batch of money come from, though?
Sources familiar with the $50,000 SCGOP contribution tell us the money was a pass-through from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) – an organization which contributed another $3,500 to Wilson’s campaign in a separate disbursement.
In other words, this organization was directly responsible for 45.7 percent of the money Wilson raised from April 1 through June 30.
According to our sources, the SCGOP received a letter from RAGA accompanying its $50,000 check freeing the party from any obligations regarding how the money was to be spent – but “we all know where it was supposed to go.”
Such shady financial maneuvers are legal – and according to sources close to the party have been conducted in the past on behalf of statewide officials like former governor Nikki Haley and current commissioner of agriculture Hugh Weathers.
Does that mean the GOP should have agreed to play ball with the RAGA in helping Wilson?
Absolutely not …
Wilson is already staring down a serious campaign finance scandal – and beyond that he remains badly exposed in the criminal investigation of his allies being led by special prosecutor David Pascoe.
“(The contribution) could open the party up to discovery if he’s the subject of a current investigation,” a source familiar with the transaction told us.
Sounds like something the party should have thought about to us.
Wilson aggressively championed this criminal investigation when its focus was one of his political rivals – former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell – but his tune changed dramatically when investigation began targeting some of his political allies. In fact, Wilson did a 180-degree turn when it became clear the political empire of his longtime advisor – Richard Quinn – was at the heart of the inquiry.
Wilson reported another payment to Quinn on his latest disclosure, incidentally.
Last March Pascoe was preparing to convene a grand jury for the purpose of handing down indictments in connection with this investigation – 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 and baselessly attacking Pascoe’s integrity.
It didn’t work …
Pascoe took Wilson to the Supreme Court – and won. Since then, his investigation has produced multiple indictments of sitting elected officials. More indictments are expected, too.
Wilson does not currently have an announced opponent for the GOP nomination, although we suspect that will change soon. In the meantime, we would counsel the SCGOP against further efforts on his behalf.
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