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SC Code Commissioner, Ex-Lawmaker Indicted On Perjury Charge

Fresh charges in #ProbeGate investigation …

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Just when we thought the ongoing #ProbeGate investigation into corruption in South Carolina state government had run its course, S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe dropped another big indictment on the table.

In other words, reports of this inquiry’s demise were clearly premature …

Earlier this week, a statewide grand jury indicted 67-year-old S.C. code commissioner Jim Harrison on perjury charges.  Harrison is accused of lying under oath in connection with this inquiry – which was exclusively unearthed by this news outlet way back in September of 2014.

Perjury is a felony charge – and carries with it a possible five-year jail sentence.

News of the indictment was first reported by John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper.

Harrison was previously indicted last October on criminal conspiracy, common law misconduct and statutory misconduct in office charges.  He was suspended from his position as code commissioner at the time, and is scheduled to stand trial in a Richland County, S.C. courtroom on October 22.

What led to the latest charge against him?  Good question.  We reached out to Pascoe for more information but – as has been his custom throughout this investigation – he declined to comment on the latest charge and instead referred us to a copy of the indictment.

As we exclusively reported last spring, Harrison was summoned to testify before the statewide grand jury in connection with #ProbeGate.

“Nothing of consequence was asked or testified about,” Harrison told us at the time, referring to his testimony as “more background than anything.”

Clearly that assessment wasn’t entirely accurate …

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According to the indictment, Harrison told grand jurors last year that his work for Palmetto political consultant Richard Quinn – which paid him $800,000 during his tenure in the legislature – was limited to the latter’s political campaigns “and nothing more.”  In truth, however, “Harrison provided very little, if any, work on political campaigns while employed by (Quinn)” the indictment alleged.

Instead, he “sponsored, co-sponsored and voted on legislation that favored clients of (Quinn).”

Quinn’s influential firm was the focus of this investigation for several years, but criminal charges against the veteran strategist were dismissed last December.

Quinn’s son and top lieutenant – state representative Rick Quinn – pleaded guilty in December to one count of misconduct in office and resigned his post in the S.C. General Assembly.  Former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell reached a similar deal in 2014, while former S.C. majority leader Jimmy Merrill and former S.C. Senate president John Courson both resigned their offices in connection with plea deals related to the inquiry, too.

Merrill resigned his seat last September, while Courson resigned his seat in June – prompting the current special election for his State Senate district.

Harrell, Merrill and Courson all signed cooperation agreements with the state as part of their plea agreements.

As for Harrison, he represented S.C. House District 75 (map) from 1989-2012.  At the time of his retirement, he was chairman of the S.C. House judiciary committee – a tremendously influential post.  Upon his resignation, he was appointed code commissioner and director of the S.C. Legislative Council, the agency responsible for drafting and codifying the mountain of legislation that passes through the S.C. General Assembly each year.

Harrison is one of two defendants whose charges in connection with this investigation have yet to be resolved.  The other is former state representative Tracy Edge, who represented S.C. House District 104 (map) in Horry County from 1996-2014.

Edge was also called before the statewide grand jury last spring.  In October of last year, he was charged with criminal conspiracy, common law misconduct in office, statutory misconduct in office and perjury charges

Last month, Harrison sought to have the conspiracy and misconduct in office charges against him dropped – but S.C. circuit court judge Carmen Mullen (who is no friend to Pascoe) denied that request.

As a result, Harrison’s trial will go on …

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