“Not an investigation,” said Wilson spokesman Robert Kittle. “But we have asked SLED to begin a preliminary inquiry.”
The agency’s response?
“We have received the request and it is under review,” SLED spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson told us.
No word yet on when the agency will make a determination as to launching such an inquiry.
News of Johnson’s (latest) drama was exclusively reported by this news site last month. Our reporting came on the heels of a document dump posted to the website PAPR.org – the home page of a group called Public Access to Public Records.
Ironically, that group has also drawn a bead on Wilson …
That group boasts of its commitment to “shining a light on the actions of South Carolina public officials and agencies,” although the organization appears to be a front for prominent Columbia, S.C. Democratic attorney Dick Harpootlian – who has a longstanding beef with both the fifth circuit solicitor and the attorney general.
Nonetheless, the site turned up some interesting expenses related to Johnson’s office …
We have yet to complete a full review of the documents, but a cursory review of them showed taxpayers being forced to shell out thousands of dollars on a host of questionable expenses – including swanky parties, cab and Uber rides, club memberships and hotel rooms.
Sources familiar with some of the expenses referred to them as personal in nature.
“Intensely personal,” one source close to the office told us.
Earlier this week, our reporting was picked up by The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
Last week, we called on Johnson to recuse himself from his role as the presiding prosecutor in an ongoing SLED investigation into Greenville County, S.C. sheriff Will Lewis, who has been accused of drugging and raping a female subordinate as well as a host of other questionable actions.
All of the breaking news related to that case also broke on this news site.
“Johnson should avoid even a hint of hypocrisy by allowing another solicitor to handle the Lewis inquiry,” we wrote.
Johnson’s circuit includes Richland and Kershaw counties in the Midlands region of the state. He was assigned the Lewis case to avoid possible regional conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, his appointment has only created a bigger conflict.
In addition to the latest allegations of fiscal mismanagement against the fifth circuit solicitor, longtime readers of this news site will recall that Johnson has had some issues in the past involving questionable conduct with female subordinates.
In other words he’s the last person who should be investigating Lewis.
In the event SLED proceeds with its investigation of Johnson, it only underscores our original argument that he needs to step down from the Lewis case.
In fact, that may be exactly what Wilson had in mind in making this request …
According to our sources, the attorney general is eying the Lewis investigation as an opportunity to burnish his anti-corruption credentials – which have taken a hit in recent years.
“He’s about to inherit a prosecution against a hugely unpopular official in the heart of GOP country in South Carolina,” one Upstate political strategist told us.
In other words, there’s nothing but political upside here for Wilson …
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 or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE. Want to support what we’re doing? SUBSCRIBE HERE.