Veteran South Carolina “Republican” strategist Richard Quinn reportedly testified before a statewide grand jury last Friday in connection with #ProbeGate, an ongoing investigation into corruption in state government.
Quinn’s testimony – originally scheduled for last Tuesday – was part of a controversial plea deal reached four-and-a-half months ago with S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe.
According to our sources, Quinn’s testimony lasted “all day” Friday. Quinn reportedly told several confidants that he “told the truth” during his extensive grilling – but that he was unable to provide details of his testimony per the terms of his plea agreement.
Grand jury proceedings are secret. Also, Pascoe made it clear earlier this month that Quinn would be “shielded from the press” during his appearance.
What went down inside the “star chamber?”
We don’t know, but given the influential consultant’s lengthy list of wealthy corporate and powerful political clients, his appearance before the statewide grand jury has been highly anticipated – especially seeing as it falls during the peak of the state’s partisan primary election season.
Many believe the veteran consultant – who built a political empire of unrivaled influence over the past three decades – will be instrumental in bringing cases against several high-profile defendants.
Pascoe has yet to bring a defendant to trial in connection with the ongoing investigation, however he has secured guilty pleas and resignations from three powerful “Republican”members of the S.C. House of Representatives – former S.C. speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, former majority leader Jimmy Merrill, and former majority leader Rick Quinn (Richard Quinn’s son).
Harrell and Merrill have also been cooperating with Pascoe’s probe in the aftermath of their pleas.
The first #ProbeGate trial – of suspended state senator John Courson – is scheduled for early June. Meanwhile two additional defendants – state code commissioner and former House judiciary chairman Jim Harrison and former state representative Tracy Edge – still have charges pending against them.[timed-content-server show=”2018-Jan-17 00:00:00″ hide=”2018-May-18 00:00:00″]
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In previous court hearings, Pascoe referred to Richard Quinn as the ringleader of a corrupt political organization 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. All under the radar.”
Last December, Pascoe asserted that there was “no entity more corrupt than Richard Quinn and Associates.”
Then why didn’t he prosecute him?
As part of Pascoe’s plea deal, all of the charges filed against Richard Quinn were dropped. Only one charge – a lobbying violation against Quinn’s corporate umbrella – was included in the plea agreement. If you ask us, that’s some remarkably effective lawyering by Quinn’s attorney, Columbia, S.C.-based counselor Deborah Barbier.
Quinn backers tell us Pascoe let the man known as the “Godfather” off the hook because there was insufficient evidence to make a case against him. Pascoe’s allies contend the evidence investigators obtained related to Quinn – most of which was collected during a March 2017 raid of one of his Columbia-area offices – was simply too good for the prosecutor to pass up.
Which leads us to the big question: What happens now?
There are two theories.
The first theory holds that Pascoe is spent – and that his much-ballyhooed investigation has run its course without the high-profile indictments the public was led to believe were coming. The second theory? That Pascoe has an ace in the hole – maybe more than one – and is waiting to lay his cards on the table.
Stay tuned …
News of #ProbeGate was exclusively reported by this site back in October of 2014. Since then, we’ve broken dozens of stories related to the investigation – including the first report confirming that the Quinns’ were a focus of the investigation (way back in the spring of 2016).
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