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#SC2018: Catherine Templeton Wants #ProbeGate Answers

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Earlier this week in Greenville, South Carolina, the Palmetto State’s lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant unloaded on the political consulting empire of Richard Quinn – the veteran GOP strategist who has spent the last few years at the center of #ProbeGate, an ongoing investigation into political corruption in state government.

To read our recap of Bryant’s remarks (in which the “lite gov” took as many arrows as he unleashed), click here …

Today, it was the turn of Lowcountry labor attorney Catherine Templeton.  Like Bryant, Templeton is currently campaigning against Henry McMaster – the incumbent “Republican” governor who used Quinn as his consultant for the better part of three decades.  McMaster unceremoniously parted ways with Quinn last spring – a move that may have saved him some face but ultimately hasn’t served him well in the long run.

Without the veteran strategist managing his bid, McMaster’s campaign has been nothing short of a disaster – one Templeton has been adeptly capitalizing on.

With Quinn scheduled to testify before a statewide grand jury this week, Templeton once again went on the offensive …

Calling Quinn a “political puppet master who pulled the strings for decades on the inner workings of Columbia’s corrupt good ol’ boy network,” she took after the veteran strategist in the hopes of tying him to McMaster.

Which frankly isn’t that difficult to do …

“The web of corruption surrounding Henry McMaster is so large and complex, it’s hard to keep track of,” Templeton’s communication director Mark Powell said in a statement. “The people in the middle of this corruption probe are McMaster’s people. They have been on his payroll for decades. The public deserves to know Henry McMaster’s connection and just how complicit he may have been.”

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Specifically, Templeton’s campaign laid out eight questions that it said Quinn should be asked while under oath before the grand jury this week.

Here are those questions …

  1. In March 2017, The State said Richard Quinn’s “political empire” was “at its zenith” when McMaster became governor. The State also described McMaster as Quinn’s “longtime political client,” and noted that they both had sought to “capture” the governorship before. QUESTIONS: Upon McMaster becoming governor, how many appointments did McMaster make with Quinn’s interest in mind? Did Quinn ever lobby McMaster to appoint an individual as a political favor? How many of Quinn’s clients has McMaster appointed to state boards and commissions? Did Quinn every pay McMaster to “play” using McMasters elected position to enrich Quinn or his clients? 
  2. Henry McMaster moved to replace two South Carolina Ports Authority (SPA) board members in March 2017 who had questioned the SPA’s multi-million dollar consulting contracts with Richard Quinn and his companies. One of McMaster replacements was a Senior Vice President for SCANA, the same cooperation that bundled over $115,000 for McMaster’s campaign and hired Richard Quinn for consulting work. QUESTIONS: Did Richard Quinn have communications with Henry McMaster about replacing these board members? If so, did Quinn and McMaster discuss replacing them with individuals favorable to SPA’s consulting contracts with Quinn’s company? Did Richard Quinn view these board members as threats to his steady stream of taxpayer money and did McMaster seek to replace them for the purpose of protecting Quinn’s contract? Did Quinn lobby McMaster to replace these board members with individuals connected to his client, SCANA, and did Quinn promise SCANA contributions for McMaster’s campaign for making these new appointments?  
  3. McMaster landed a consulting contract with the University of South Carolina worth more than $500,000. At the time, the University of South Carolina was one of Richard Quinn’s top clients. Another leading Quinn client, Henry McMaster, had recently lost a bid for governor. QUESTIONS: What discussions did McMaster have with Quinn regarding this contract? Did Quinn lobby for McMaster, a Quinn client who just lost an election, to obtain the consulting gig? Did McMaster ask for Quinn’s help in securing this contract?
  4. In April 2017, Henry McMaster opposed a bill to require legislators convicted of felonies to pay restitution. Bizarrely, McMaster complained the bill was unfair to convicted legislators. QUESTIONS: Did McMaster oppose this legislation to protect Richard Quinn’s clients from having to possibly pay restitution if found guilty of a felony? Did Quinn have any conversations with McMaster about this specific legislation and how it could affect his clients or McMaster himself if found guilty of a felony?
  5. As a 2010 candidate for governor, McMaster accepted $73,000 in excessive campaign contributions. In 2016, McMaster was ordered to repay the contributions and fined $5,100 by the South Carolina Ethics Commission. QUESTIONS: Did Quinn and McMaster ever discuss accepting illegal contributions? Did Quinn and McMaster ever conspire to skirt campaign finance laws?
  6. State Senator John Courson was indicted in March 2017 on charges of misconduct in office and using campaign funds for personal expenses. Notably, as reported in The Post & Courier, Courson collected nearly $133,000 from his own campaign funds “by funneling money through” Richard Quinn’s firm. The firm would take Courson’s campaign funds and write checks back to Courson for his personal use. QUESTIONS:Did Richard Quinn ever discuss or participate in a similar scheme with Henry McMaster? Did Quinn and McMaster ever seek to personally enrich McMaster using his positions as an elected official or candidate for office? Is Quinn aware of any attempts by McMaster, with or without his help, to defraud the public or engage in illegal activities?
  7. In 2017, The Post & Courier noted that McMaster’s relationship with Richard Quinn spanned three decades. Since 2009, McMaster was Quinn’s third-biggest candidate client, paying Quinn’s firms $376,000.QUESTIONS:  Having such a close and profitable relationship, what did McMaster know of Quinn’s illegal activities? Did McMaster and Quinn ever discuss the corruption probe? If so, what were the nature of those discussions? Did Quinn and McMaster ever discuss how to personally profit from a mutually beneficial relationship that hinged on McMaster’s position as a public official? How many times did Quinn meet with McMaster to advise or discuss prosecutorial and political issues while McMaster was Attorney General?
  8. According to The Post and Courier, Richard Quinn aided Henry McMaster’s political rise by running a financial shell game in 2000 that hid debt in the Republican Party while McMaster was state chairman. An audit of the party’s finances conducted in 2004 concluded that, through Quinn’s scheme, “cash balances and financial records were manipulated and then exploited for the purpose of re-electing Chairman McMaster.” QUESTIONS: Did Richard Quinn coordinate this temporary infusion of cash into the SCGOP bank account with McMaster? What knowledge did McMaster have of this scheme? Why did McMaster allow this deception take place under his leadership?

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