By Paul Gable
SC Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that he is referring the ethics case against SC Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell to the State Grand Jury.
The case includes investigation of the approximately $325,000 Harrell reimbursed to himself from campaign funds with only general records of the expenses, according to a series by Renee Dudley, then of the Charleston Post and Courier.
According to Dudley’s stories, Harrell failed to meet the requirements of state law section 8-13-1302, which enumerates requirements for maintenance of expenditure records from campaign contributions.
From 2008 through last year, Harrell reimbursed himself $240,000 of the above total for legislative and other trips in a total of 40 payments.
Harrell has stated several times in the media that all of these reimbursements are in accordance with state ethics laws and that he is, in fact, saving the state money by reimbursing himself out of his campaign account.
However, after an investigation completed by SLED at Wilson’s request, the facts will now be presented to a Grand Jury.
Ethics cases are normally only referred to the Grand Jury where an investigation has uncovered probable cause for felony charges. It will now be up to the Grand Jury whether to bring an indictment.
Harrell responded quickly to the announcement by Wilson, expressing dismay at the referral to the Grand Jury.
The following is a statement issued by Harrell’s office:
Office of the Speaker
SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2014
“It is disappointing that the Attorney General notified the press before contacting my attorneys or me about this decision.
“This decision contradicts every indication that SLED and the Attorney General’s Office have given us on the progress of this investigation. I have cooperated fully and voluntarily with this investigation, provided access to everything they requested and met with investigators for several interviews.
“At every stage of this investigation it was reiterated to us that investigators have found no areas of concern. Given every indication we have received from SLED and the Attorney General, I am disappointed and shocked by this sudden change of course.
“This has drawn on for far too long and been done behind closed doors. I call on the Attorney General to immediately release the entire SLED report to the public. This report contains the facts of this matter, facts that have been kept from the public and even kept from my attorneys and me.”