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David Pascoe Pushes For Release Of Grand Jury Report

Solicitor, grand jurors argue for disclosure of #ProbeGate investigatory document …

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South Carolina first circuit solicitor David Pascoe is pushing to publicly release a statewide grand jury report compiled during #ProbeGate, his investigation into public corruption in the Palmetto State.

Pascoe filed a motion this week to unseal the report, which was approved by grand jurors on June 21 of this year.  According to Pascoe’s filing, the report “expose(s) vulnerabilities in our political system and mak(es) recommendations to address these issues.”

In addition to compiling the report, members of the statewide grand jury made it clear they wanted the public to see their work.

“The grand jury strongly believes that the interest of the State of South Carolina will be best served through the public disclosure of this report and calls upon the state to release this report at the soonest possible opportunity,” a statement included in Pascoe’s motion noted.

The solicitor concurred.

“The report itself was not drafted until the investigation had concluded and the grand jury was in a position to make its recommendations as to any subjects not already indicted,” Pascoe wrote in his filing. “The primary actors in the underlying investigation have been indicted, and their inclusion in the report is proper.  The majority have entered guilty pleas, and the two remaining defendants arising from the investigation are not discussed in the report in any material way.”

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Pascoe went on to note that “with respect to the corporate subjects, the findings of the report recommend action” and that “it is imperative that the report be released” at the same time as “corporate integrity agreements” reached between the state and certain unnamed entities.

Corporate integrity agreements are deals struck between the government and private companies that are intended to ensure ongoing compliance with the law.

Pascoe argued in his motion that keeping the report under seal would constitute an “affront to our commitment to open courts.”

“The remaining portion of the report contains findings and conclusions regarding matters of great public interest involving the initiation of (the) investigation and contains specific recommendations regarding legislative action,” he noted.

Here is a copy of Pascoe’s motion …

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The #ProbeGate investigation – exclusively unearthed by this news outlet back in September of 2014 – has brought down several of the most powerful “Republican” members of the S.C. General Assembly.  It has also laid low arguably the most influential political strategist the state has ever known – veteran GOP advisor Richard Quinn .

Criminal charges against Quinn were dropped back in December, but his firm was slapped with a fine for failing to register as a lobbying entity.

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.

Two additional defendants remain on the hook, former S.C. judiciary chairman – and current S.C. code commissioner – Jim Harrison of Columbia and Tracy Edge, a former state lawmaker from North Myrtle Beach.

A decision regarding the release of the report falls to S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman.

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