Greenville attorney William Herlong said rooting out public corruption will be his first, second and third priorities if S.C. voters elect him attorney general.
Flanked by his wife, son and daughter Monday at the State House, the 59-year-old Herlong explained why he wants to be the state’s top prosecutor in a speech that attacked State House corruption before focusing his criticism on S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Wilson, a Lexington Republican, is seeking a third term.
Herlong, a 59-year-old attorney, described himself as an outsider who has seldom run for office. He lost a race for the S.C. House in 2006. He said he possibly would spend close to $500,000 of his own money in his bid to unseat Wilson in June’s GOP primary.
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Herlong attacked Wilson for recusing, or removing, himself from a public corruption probe after reading a State Law Enforcement Division investigative report, citing his ties to some of its targets.
“What good is an attorney general who has a conflict of interest going after corruption in the State House,” Herlong said. “That’s like a police officer that has a conflict of interest arresting bad guys.”
Herlong also criticized Wilson for trying to fire special prosecutor David Pascoe “when the special prosecutor began to investigate the (attorney general’s) friends and allies.”
Wilson’s camp fired back.
"Mr. Herlong is a liberal trial attorney who's being loose with facts and is too quick to run with baseless innuendo and conjecture,” said Mark Knoop, Wilson’s campaign spokesman.
“This is political theatrics in its worst form,” Knoop said. “It is offensive that Herlong would impugn the integrity of the men and women he says he wants to lead. The attorney general's office is held to a higher standard than that."
Pascoe’s corruption probe has led to seven indictments thus far: six former and current state lawmakers, and Wilson’s political consultant, Richard Quinn, whose Columbia-based public relations firm has represented several top public officials and companies.
The charges against Richard Quinn were dropped as part of a plea deal in which the GOP kingmaker was ordered to pay a fine for not registering as a lobbyist, Quinn also agreed to testify before the State Grand Jury hearing evidence in Pascoe’s ongoing investigation.
Quinn’s son, now-resigned state Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, also pleaded guilty to a count of misconduct. He awaits sentencing.
State Rep. Todd Atwater, R-Lexington, also is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general.