Earlier this week, our news site reported exclusively on alleged “issues” with the guilty plea entered last month by former South Carolina state representative Rick Quinn. Quinn is one of several Palmetto politicians caught up in #ProbeGate, an ongoing investigation into corruption in state government.
This investigation has centered around powerful corporate and governmental interests represented by the consulting firm of Quinn’s influential father – “Republican” political strategist Richard Quinn.
Last month, the younger Quinn pleaded guilty in open court to one count of misconduct in office related to his role in the scandal – a plea that could land him in jail for up to a year. As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to drop criminal conspiracy charges against the elder Quinn.
As noted in our report earlier this week, though … something has gone wrong with the deal.
Not only has Quinn not been sentenced, the stated rationale offered by Pascoe for cutting the agreement in the first place – namely grand jury testimony the elder Quinn was supposed to provide in connection with the ongoing criminal probe – hasn’t come off, either.
Six weeks later, everything associated with the case has gone radio silent.
What’s going on?
As we reported yesterday, S.C. circuit court judge Carmen Mullen is reportedly taking time to address “legal questions regarding the plea.”
What are those “legal questions,” though?
According to our sources, Mullen has requested briefs from prosecutors and defense attorneys in response to fresh allegations of prosecutorial misconduct against S.C. special prosecutor David Pascoe.
(Click to view)
Sound familiar? We’ve been down this road before … several times, actually.
In 2016 Pascoe survived an attempt by S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson – an ally of the Quinns – to shut down his investigation. First, Wilson blocked Pascoe from convening a grand jury for the purpose of indicting two Quinn lieutenants. Shortly thereafter he fired Pascoe and attempted to replace him with a different prosecutor (one who declined to take the job). His office then clumsy attempted to politicize the case – while Wilson himself angrily attacked Pascoe’s integrity.
Not only did Wilson’s efforts fail, the whole thing blew up in his face politically – costing him a shot at the 2018 “Republican” gubernatorial nomination.
Last spring, attorneys for Quinn tried to have Pascoe removed from the case a second time – alleging prosecutorial bias and claiming that his prosecutors (and agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division – SLED) mishandled evidence collected during a March 2017 raid of one of their Columbia, S.C. offices.
Once again, Pascoe prevailed.
So … is there merit to the latest round of allegations against the prosecutor?
We don’t know …[timed-content-server show=”2018-Jan-17 00:00:00″ hide=”2018-May-18 00:00:00″]
A source close to the investigation told us this week that they believe Pascoe has committed prosecutorial misconduct by repeatedly referencing in court (and in filings before the court) “things Rick is not and has never been charged with.”
“This has been going on all along,” the source told us. “He’s been making false claims all along. The only difference now is it is finally in print in a document that has major bearing on the case.”
Pascoe’s office has a policy of not responding to media requests related to the case, but sources close to the prosecutor told us this week that the latest allegations have been “dealt with.”
“He was ready for them and he had a response to them,” the source told us.
Pascoe has been outspoken in court regarding his views on both Rick and Richard Quinn.
“There is not a legislator who could consciously duplicate this corruption,” Pascoe told the court, describing Rick Quinn as the “most corrupt lawmaker” in Columbia.
“I ask that he serve every day of that (one-year sentence),” Pascoe told Mullen, urging her to “send a message” to other corrupt lawmakers.
As for Richard Quinn, Pascoe has accused him of being the ringleader of a conspiracy with “tentacles” throughout state government.
“(Quinn) used legislators, groomed legislators and conspired with legislators to violate multiple state ethics acts,” Pascoe said during a court hearing last October. “All so he could make money.”
“He was a very effective but illegal lobbyist,” Pascoe said, referring to Quinn. “All under the radar.”
At this point, we’ve yet to see any evidence that Pascoe has acted improperly at any stage of this investigation. Meanwhile we’ve seen ample evidence that those targeted by his investigation will say and do anything to avoid accountability for their actions.
Obviously we believe Pascoe’s December decision to enter into a plea agreement with the Quinns was a high-stakes gamble, but as we noted in our coverage at the time “we’ve never had any reason to doubt Pascoe’s prosecutorial judgment.”
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