By Paul Gable
By a 4-1 margin, the SC Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Attorney General Alan Wilson had no authority to remove solicitor David Pascoe from a continuing investigation into corruption in the SC General Assembly.
The investigation began in 2014 and is reported to center around misuse of campaign funds and abuse of power for personal gain by what is called in yesterday’s opinion the “redacted legislators.”
The Attorney General recused himself from the case for possible conflict of interest in July 2015 and his office turned the investigation over to Pascoe. Pascoe, from that point, was acting as the “state’s highest prosecutor.”
The key finding stated, “The initial correspondence from the Attorney General’s Office to both Pascoe and Chief Keel in July 2015, stated, without reservation, that the Attorney General’s Office was recused from the redacted legislators investigation, leaving only Pascoe as the state’s highest prosecutor in that matter.”
In addition, the Court found transferring the case to Pascoe included the right to order a State Grand Jury investigation into the case. “Pascoe has met his burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence he was vested with the authority to act as the Attorney General in the (probe), and that this authority necessarily included the power to initiate a state grand jury investigation.”
In March 2016, Wilson attempted to remove Pascoe from the case, attempting to replace him with a different solicitor who refused to take Pascoe’s place. At this point, Wilson attempted to politicize the issue by smearing Pascoe in the media.
Central to the issue was an attempt by Pascoe to initiate a Grand Jury investigation, something Wilson claimed only he had the authority to do. The Court tore apart Wilson’s interpretation of the State Grand Jury law.
After Wilson’s actions, Pascoe asked the SC Supreme Court to take original jurisdiction in the case. Pascoe sought a declaratory judgement that Wilson recused himself and his office from the case and vested Pascoe with full legal authority to act as the Attorney General in the case and that Wilson had no authority to later terminate Pascoe.
Wilson has made an absolute fool of himself with his actions and statements of several months ago. Speculation in Columbia and around the state was that the investigation was coming too close to political allies of Wilson in the General Assembly.
With the declaratory judgement, Pascoe is now free to move into the next phase of the investigation which should be to empanel the State Grand Jury for the purpose of issuing indictments, if true bills are voted.
read the full opinion here: 27646