Reactions from participants
“I have agreed to this today to end what has been a two year nightmare. This has been incredibly hard on my family and me, and it is time for it to end. We have a fundamental disagreement over the proper use of a campaign account to fly a private aircraft to conduct state and campaign business, but to continue to fight this would have taken at least another year, possibly two. Cathy and I are deeply appreciative to everyone who has offered words of encouragement and prayers on our behalf. My passion for our state remains as strong as it has ever been, and I will continue to look for ways to serve the Lowcountry and South Carolina.”
"This entire process has taken a real toll on this state. The integrity of our justice system has been called into question, and public trust significantly damaged. It’s also clear that the process created by legislators to hold themselves 'accountable' for corruption is not simply flawed but unconstitutionally designed to protect politicians and intimidate citizens, as well as to create a separate set of laws for elected officials."
-- Ashley Landess, president of the think tank S.C. Policy Council who brought allegations against Harrell to the S.C. Attorney General
“In the public interest, this matter has confirmed that no one in South Carolina is above the law."
-- S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson
Reactions from state lawmakers
"Now have proof"
“It’s a serious situation. It’s a sad situation for South Carolina, but it goes back to we have pushed for the last two years for ethics reform. We’ve said that we need to have income disclosures for our legislators, we’ve said we need to have independent investigations. The Senate killed it both years. We’re going to come back, and we’re going to come back with stronger ethics reform. We now have our proof that we need. We’re going to do all that we can to get it passed.”
-- Gov. Nikki Haley
"Test the faith of the citizens"
“This is a disappointing day for South Carolina and the South Carolina House of Representatives. Days like this test the faith of the citizens of this State in their public officials. It is my hope that bringing this matter involving Speaker Harrell to a close will allow the House to move forward and to focus on the issues important to South Carolina.”
-- Acting House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington
"Cannot legislate morals"
“It’s a sad day for our state when any elected official gets in a situation like this. My position has been and still is you cannot legislate morals.”
-- Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence
GOP majority not deterred
"Despite Democrats' efforts to exploit this situation for political advantage, what happened today does not detract from our Republican majority's significant legislative accomplishments and it will not distract us from the goal of maintaining that strong majority. ... As we remain committed to transparency, I encourage all voters to take this opportunity, as the election approaches, to research and question the candidates making sure that they are on the side of the governmental reform you seek."
-- House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville
"It's a tragedy. My heartfelt thoughts go out to the family. It's always sad when people plead guilty to crimes. You can say justice has been served, but I always feel so sad when people end up in this position. ... I can't speak to what (Harrell) did. All I can speak to is he has admitted it. He has accepted the indictment. And I wish that it had just been handled differently. If there were issues perhaps it should have been dealt with earlier."
-- Rep. Kirkman Finlay, R-Richland
"Sends a signal"
"The institution is stronger and greater than any one member, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to focus on strengthening our ethics laws and to address the challenges facing South Carolina. ... Clearly it sends a signal that the prosecutors are continuing to look at evidence of corruption. The speaker is providing information that they find valuable."
-- State Rep. James Smith, D-Richland
“It’s a testament to the one-party rule here in South Carolina and the culture of corruption that is very pervasive here in Columbia.”
-- Jaime Harrison, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party
"No Lost Trust"
"There is no Lost Trust. There is no money floating around, nobody buying votes up there,” Rutherford said. “Anybody that comes to offer me money for my vote is either crazy or a federal agent. It doesn't happen."
-- House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland