There’s well-founded speculation that South Carolina governor Henry McMaster is personally exposed in connection #ProbeGate – an ongoing, multi-jurisdictional investigation into public corruption in Palmetto State government.
McMaster, who served as S.C. attorney general from 2003-2011, could be in hot water related to actions taken (or not taken) during his two terms in that office. Additionally, there’s a sweetheart deal he received from the University of South Carolina (USC) – one of the influential taxpayer-funded entities at the heart of this escalating investigation.
Back in 2011, USC created a new six-figure taxpayer-funded position for McMaster – ostensibly to raise money for its law school. McMaster was paid $191,000 per year (not counting benefits) in this post.
USC is one of the many influential clients of McMaster’s longtime consultant – Richard Quinn – named in open court this week by special prosecutor David Pascoe. News of the school’s proximity to the latest round of indictments handed down by a statewide grand jury was exclusively reported by this news site, incidentally.
But beyond McMaster’s intimate proximity to the influential interests at the heart of this investigation (and another, potentially bigger multi-jurisdictional criminal probe), his real exposure is political …
And we’re not just talking about the fact that the alleged ringleader of this corrupt organization has been advising him for decades …
(Click to view)
This week’s court hearing related to the investigation only intensified his problems …
In arraigning five #ProbeGate defendants – including Richard Quinn – Pascoe laid out damning evidence of pay-to-play activity within the S.C. General Assembly. Specifically, more than $1.2 million was allegedly paid by Quinn’s firm to a pair of ex-lawmakers – former judiciary chairman Jim Harrison and former ways and means subcommittee chairman Tracy Edge.
This is in addition to nearly $160,000 allegedly funneled to State Senator John Courson via campaign “kickbacks.”
“(Quinn) used legislators, groomed legislators and conspired with legislators to violate multiple state ethics acts,” Pascoe said. “All so he could make money.”
What does any of this have to do with McMaster?
Well, the vast majority of the alleged payments made to Harrison and Edge took place while McMaster was attorney general – an office Quinn has repeatedly told would-be clients was in his “back pocket.”
In fact, Quinn referred to the attorney general’s office as one of his “tentacles,” according to Pascoe.
Did McMaster know about his consultant’s alleged illegal schemes? And if so, did he ignore them?
“The more charges that emerge against the Quinns dating back to McMaster’s eight years as the state’s top prosecutor, the worse things look for him,” we wrote earlier this week. “McMaster doesn’t have to be a target of the investigation for it to topple him … he just has to be portrayed as one of the corrupt officials who looked the other way during the fleecing.”
Poised to benefit from this dynamic? McMaster’s top GOP primary opponent, Catherine Templeton.
While Templeton remains largely unknown and undefined among the state’s “Republican” electorate, she has been peppering her social media feeds with references to the corruption in state government – channeling the “swamp-draining” spirit that helped propel U.S. president Donald Trump to the White House last fall.
Assuming she touts such a message via an aggressive paid media campaign … and combines it with some ball-busting ethics reform proposals, watch out.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? Please feel free to submit your own guest column or letter to the editor via-email HERE. Got a tip for us? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question? CLICK HERE. Want to support what we’re doing? SUBSCRIBE HERE.
Banner via S.C. Governor