South Carolina first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – who has been touted as a possible Democratic candidate for attorney general – has hired Columbia, S.C. attorney Jim Griffin to handle an undetermined number of criminal cases in Calhoun County, this news outlet has confirmed.
It is not clear how many cases Griffin is handling, or how much tax money his office will receive in connection with this arrangement.
According to Pascoe, his office hired Griffin two months ago to “handle some cases on Calhoun docket until I can find someone full-time to cover (the) docket.”
This news outlet is in the process of submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Pascoe’s office seeking a list of the cases involving Griffin, any payments made to him (or his office) and any correspondence related to this agreement.
Griffin, regular readers will recall, is one-half of the “bulldog” defense team currently representing disgraced Hampton, S.C. attorney Alex Murdaugh – the man at the center of the still-unspooling ‘Murdaugh Murders’ true crime saga. The other half of #GriffPoot? S.C. senator Dick Harpootlian.
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How has this dynamic duo performed for Murdaugh? Eh … not well.
Griffin and Harpootlian have been getting their asses handed to them for months by senior deputy attorneys general Creighton Waters and Megan Burchstead – the lead prosecutors working this case for the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.
Waters, in particular, has run circles around both Harpootlian and Griffin in numerous bond hearings – while Burchstead earned acclaim from this news outlet for taking a hard line against these attorneys in a prior Murdaugh-related case.
In addition to their lengthening string of legal setbacks, Griffin and Harpootlian have lost tremendous credibility with the public by offering up all manner of demonstrably false narratives related to the Murdaugh case.
Griffin, in particular, has had to apologize to members of the media for misleading them.
So … why would a candidate for statewide office spend taxpayer dollars to hire either one of these attorneys to handle criminal cases for him?
That’s a good question … one Pascoe will likely have to answer when this decision comes back to bite him in the ass later this year (assuming he runs for attorney general).
Pascoe gained statewide notoriety several years ago as the lead prosecutor on ProbeGate – a major investigation into public corruption at the South Carolina State House that started out with tremendous promise but fizzled out a little over two years ago.
ProbeGate focused on a pay-to-play scandal allegedly orchestrated by veteran “Republican” strategist Richard Quinn – who is still facing criminal charges in the aftermath of this inquiry, incidentally.
“Corporate entities retained Richard Quinn for the purpose of gaining access to and influence over public officials, and by failing to report Quinn’s services, influenced the outcome of legislative matters with no accountability or disclosure to the public,” the grand jurors who investigated Quinn and his cronies wrote in a report released in October of 2018.
ProbeGate led to the resignation of numerous influential state lawmakers – speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, former S.C. Senate president John Courson, former House majority leader Jimmy Merrill, former House majority leader Rick Quinn (the son of Richard Quinn) and former S.C. House judiciary chairman Jim Harrison.
I credited Pascoe repeatedly for holding these elected officials accountable, but he failed spectacularly to finish the job. Actually, it was worse than that. Pascoe refused to go after the corporate interests pulling the strings of these politicians. In fact, these entities essentially paid Pascoe off via so-called “corporate integrity agreements” – direct payments to his office accompanied by promises to behave better in the future.
In return, Pascoe agreed not to prosecute them criminally.
That’s right … Pascoe’s office received direct payments from corporate defendants in exchange for an agreement not to prosecute them, even though a grand jury found probable cause to indict them.
Unreal, right? As expected, I excoriated Pascoe over these dubious deals.
“Allowing corporate entities to basically buy their way out of criminal charges is not ‘integrity,’ in fact some would argue it is no better than the sort of behavior Pascoe was prosecuting in the first place,” I noted at the time.
Indeed … that isn’t just enabling corruption. It is corrupt.
Stay tuned … this news outlet will keep readers up to speed on anything we uncover from our FOIA of Pascoe’s office.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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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. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Washington Senators’ lid pictured above).
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