Veteran state Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, of Columbia, one of the most respected figures in state government, has been indicted by a State Grand Jury on charges of misconduct in office and conversion of campaign funds to personal use, his lawyer said late Thursday night.
The indictments are to be officially made public Friday morning. Details were not available Thursday night.
Courson’s lawyer, Rose Mary Parham of Florence, a former assistant U.S. Attorney, said she contacted The State newspaper about the indictment in order to release news of the indictment Thursday night to counter what she expects will be negative publicity resulting from the official release of the indictments Friday morning.
Parham said Courson will fight the charges, and released this statement on his behalf:
“These allegations are completely false. I have done nothing wrong. I value my integrity and have spent all of my years as a public servant embracing the highest standards of ethical conduct. I believe the most important things one leaves behind in this life are one’s children and one’s reputation. While it is unfortunate to be charged by a partisan Democrat under questionable motives and authority, I have no doubt that I will be cleared and exonerated of these accusations.”
Courson, 72, has served in the Senate since 1985 and is currently chairman of the Senate Education Committee, which oversees public and higher education matters in the state.
Courson is the second person indicted in a wide-ranging probe of alleged public corruption in the S.C. General Assembly. The probe, spearheaded by special prosecutor David Pascoe, indicted Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, in December on a variety of charges, including misconduct in office.
Both Courson and Merrill were represented by the politically powerful consulting firm, Richard Quinn & Associates, which is said to undergoing scrutiny by Pascoe and the team of SLED agents working for him.