The S.C. Senate Republican Caucus spent nearly $32,000 in 2012 with Richard Quinn & Associates, according to invoices the caucus provided The State.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said the two 2012 payments are the only ones the Senate GOP Caucus has made to the Columbia political consulting firm for at least the last 17 years.
Political dealings with Columbia-based Richard Quinn & Associates are under scrutiny in the wake of the firm being named in an indictment of a state senator as part of the public corruption probe being led by special prosecutor David Pascoe.
The Senate Republican Caucus provided records of its spending with RQ&A to The State after the House Republican Caucus refused to make public its financial records, turned over to investigators as part of the ongoing corruption probe.
The Senate Caucus has not been asked for any documents by State Law Enforcement Division investigators, said Massey, who has led the caucus since 2016.
Last month, RQ&A was named in the indictment of state Sen. John Courson, R-Richland. According to that indictment, Courson paid RQ&A $247,829 from 2006 to 2012. The firm then sent Courson $132,802 “through multiple transactions,” campaign money that prosecutors allege Courson converted to his personal use.
RQ&A has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
The Senate GOP Caucus paid RQ&A to produce what a billing describes as “attack” mail pieces targeting incumbent state Sen. Floyd Nicholson, D-Greenwood, and conduct polls in three Senate races.
The caucus paid RQ&A $19,784 in 2012 for three separate mail pieces attacking Nicholson, according to one invoice.
Nicholson said that he knew there would be attacks because his district is heavily Republican.
The GOP caucus targeted Nicholson because “it was one of the most competitive Senate districts in the state,” said Massey, who was not the majority leader at the time.
Massey said the GOP Caucus used RQ&A in 2012 because it was using several political firms to avoid using the same firms that senators or GOP Senate candidates were using. “Caucus’s election efforts need to be separate from the candidate,” Massey said.
The second invoice shows the caucus paid RQ&A $12,000 in 2012 to conduct polls in three Senate districts: District 6, won by former state Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville; District 15, won by former Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York; and District 20, won by Courson.