The Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning that Attorney General Alan Wilson, SLED and the state grand jury can keep on investigating alleged ethics and other possible criminal violations against S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell pending Wilson’s appeal of a lower court order.
In a May 12 ruling on the matter, Circuit Judge Casey Manning ordered Wilson and SLED to stop investigating Harrell and turn the matter over to the House Ethics Committee for its consideration.
Manning also ordered Wilson to disband the state grand jury that is investigating Harrell.
However, the Supreme Court’s order Thursday morning keeps the grand jury intact and allows it to keep investigating Harrell pending a June 24 hearing on whether Wilson’s entire investigation should be turned over to the House Ethics Committee.
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That 10-member Ethics Committee, made up of friends and colleagues of Harrell, could then either decide to take no action, consider allegations in detail, or turn over any matters it deems potentially criminal to Wilson for investigation.
Thursday’s order was signed by all five justices of the Supreme Court, with Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal’s signature the largest and boldest of all the signatures, and at the top of the other four signatures.
The order made no special findings. Instead, it referred to existing court rules that allow a lower court’s ruling to be stayed pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has set June 24 as the date for it to hear arguments in the historic constitutional clash over, according to Wilson, whether the Legislature can write a law that prevents the Attorney General and SLED from investigating — at least temporarily — criminal allegations involving ethics matters against lawmakers.