Former South Carolina House judiciary chairman and code commissioner Jim Harrison – one of five ranking GOP leaders ensnared in a pay-to-play scandal known as ProbeGate – is scheduled to appear in a Richland county courtroom later this week in connection with a misconduct in office charge filed against him way back in October of 2017.
Harrison, readers will recall, was found guilty of perjury and misconduct in office in October 2018 and was sentenced to a year-and-a-half in prison. He remains the only ProbeGate defendant to be sentenced to prison time – although he has remained free on an appellate bond ever since his conviction on the perjury rap two-and-a-half years ago.
To be clear: The high court did not dismiss the misconduct charge against Harrison, it simply kicked that particular conviction back to the lower court due to a question over prosecutorial authority.
Wait a minute, though … if the state’s highest court upheld one of Harrison’s two convictions, why has he not already reported to the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) to begin serving his prison sentence?
That’s a good question …
According to my sources, Harrison’s attorneys were able to delay his reporting date due to certain “medical considerations.” However, I am reliably informed that the clock was running out on the 70-year-old politician – who served in the S.C. House from 1990 to 2012 (and for six years thereafter as the state’s code commissioner).
In fact, I am told Harrison could be required to report to SCDC upon the conclusion of his hearing before S.C. circuit court judge Carmen T. Mullen – which has been tentatively scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
However, it is worth recalling that Mullen earned a reputation for leniency in sentencing during the ProbeGate hearings – which could continue to work in Harrison’s favor.
Harrison could also potentially negotiate a shorter prison term by agreeing to plead guilty to the outstanding misconduct in office charge – thus saving the state the expense of another trial.
Stay tuned …
Harrison isn the only ProbeGate defendant with outstanding charges, by the way. Earlier this year, S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson referred all remaining criminal cases connected to ProbeGate to S.C. seventh circuit solicitor Barry Barnette for prosecution.
Wilson’s office retained the authority to prosecute related crimes, however.
Among the outstanding charges? The perjury and obstruction of justice raps against Richard Quinn – the former Godfather of what was once the state’s largest, most influential “Republican” political machine. In addition to Harrison, Quinn’s client roster once included dozens of lawmakers and local officials, as well as U.S. senator Lindsey Graham and governor Henry McMaster.
ProbeGate put an end to all of that, although Quinn reportedly remains engaged in the puppeteering business behind the scenes …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including the above-pictured Washington Senators’ lid).
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