South Carolina first circuit solicitor David Pascoe is dismissing a last ditch attempt by Matthew Richardson – an attorney for former state representative Rick Quinn – to keep the contents of a grand jury investigative report hidden from public view.
The report contains findings and recommendations from the #ProbeGate investigation – which was first exposed by this news outlet back in September of 2014. Over the last four years, this high-profile inquiry has resulted in headline-grabbing indictments of numerous ranking leaders of the S.C. General Assembly – including a former president of the Senate, speaker of the House and two former House majority leaders.
It has also laid low – for now – the political empire of Richard Quinn, one of the most influential corporate and political strategists in Palmetto State history. Richard Quinn was charged in connection with this investigation last year, but those charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement reached last December. Others implicated in the inquiry – including Rick Quinn, former House speaker Bobby Harrell, Senate president John Courson and former House majority leader Jimmy Merrill – were not so lucky.
All had to resign their offices upon pleading guilty to misconduct in office charges.
With the investigation winding down, the debate now turns to a report prepared by state grand jurors that “expose(s) vulnerabilities in our political system and mak(es) recommendations to address these issues,” according to Pascoe.
In a supplemental memorandum filed with the clerk of the statewide grand jury on Friday, the solicitor argued that a request made by Richardson to keep the report under lock and key had no merit because “there is no content of any substance in the report regarding Rick Quinn that has not already been publicly released.”
Pascoe further noted that “despite a cynical defendant’s protestation to the contrary,” there is no authority to “limit the state grand jury’s right to issue a report or to mandate its contents.”
We agree with that assertion, which is why we have pushed for this file to be made public ever since we became aware of its existence.
Additionally, Pascoe’s memo accused Richardson of engaging in improper ex parte communication with the court. For those of you unhip to legal jargon, ex parte is Latin for “one side only” and refers to a judge having conversations with one party to a legal action (or that party’s attorneys) outside the presence of the other party (or the other party’s attorneys).
In almost all situations, such communication is frowned upon …
Here is a copy of the memorandum …
(Via: S.C. Grand Jury)
Pascoe has already argued for the release of the report, and earlier this week he appeared in court in an effort to implore S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman to do just that. Also, the grand jurors who compiled the report back in June have made it clear they want the document to be part of the public record.
“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,” grand jurors noted in a motion filed by Pascoe earlier this month.
In filing his latest motion on Friday, Pascoe included a number of exhibits aimed at justifying his assertion that all of the information contained in the report related to Quinn had already been released.
These documents included a Powerpoint presentation presented by Pascoe in open court last December documenting alleged pay-to-play activity involving the Quinns and their legislative allies on behalf of Quinn clients. It also included a transcript of the plea hearing during which Pascoe pushed for Rick Quinn to spend a year behind bars.
Take a look …
(Via: S.C. Grand Jury)
This Powerpoint presentation was shown in open court, but this is the first time it has ever been released publicly …
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.