Briefs were due Monday in the dispute over whether special prosecutor David Pascoe can use material seized in March by State Law Enforcement Division agents at the Columbia headquarters of political consultant Richard Quinn & Associates.
At issue is whether Pascoe will be disqualified from using the material seized by SLED agents when they swooped down on Quinn’s Gervais Street offices in a surprise March 2 raid.
The material seized – documents, thumb drives, at least one laptop and a computer “tower” – is potentially a mother lode of information in Pascoe’s ongoing investigation of potential public corruption in the S.C. General Assembly.
At a May 23 hearing about the legality of the raid, Circuit Judge Knox McMahon set the deadline for briefs to be filed. The judge did not say when he might rule. McMahon kept earlier records in the case sealed, and by 5 p.m. Monday had not released copies of the briefs.
Never miss a local story.
However, in response to a request by State newspaper lawyer Jay Bender, McMahon indicated he will open records in this controversy at least by the time he rules on the seizure.
Neither Pascoe nor lawyers for Richard Quinn or Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, who has offices in his father’s building, could be reached for comment Monday. Material seized in the raid pertained to both men.
At the May 23 hearing, defense lawyers also asked that Pascoe be disqualified from prosecuting the two men.
The lawyers – Greg Harris, Johnny Gasser and Matthew Richardson for Rick Quinn and Debbie Barbier for Quinn Sr. – argued that Pascoe had bungled the search by not taking steps to properly identify and seal off confidential lawyer-client material from other material gathered in the raid.
During the hearing, Pascoe also told McMahon that no prosecutors or SLED agents had looked at any of the seized material, which had been turned over to 16th Judicial Circuit solicitor Kevin Brackett of York County, one of three elected solicitors assisting Pascoe in his investigation.
Brackett is keeping the material away from Pascoe and his investigators until the judge rules on the motion to disqualify Pascoe, whether any sensitive material has been weeded out and whether the search was constitutional, Pascoe said.
The case has attracted widespread attention. For years, Richard Quinn, 72, has been the most influential campaign consultant in South Carolina, with ties to dozens of institutions and public officials, including Gov. Henry McMaster and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Quinn’s son, Rick Quinn, 51, is a prominent member of the S.C. House of Representatives. A former Republican majority leader, Rick Quinn serves on the powerful House Judiciary Committee.
Pascoe indicted Rick Quinn last month, charging him with two counts of official misconduct. The most serious charge alleges Quinn used businesses he owns to accept money from trade groups and corporations and then did their bidding in the General Assembly. Quinn is now suspended from his post and has been granted bond.