Former state Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, has been indicted on perjury charges by the state grand jury investigating public corruption in the S.C. General Assembly, The State has learned.
Harrison, 67, already had been indicted by the state grand jury, charged in 2017 with criminal conspiracy and misconduct during his last 13 years in office, from 1999 to 2012. He is scheduled to stand trial on those charges in Richland County on Oct. 22.
“This is a desperate attempt to get my client to plead guilty,” Reggie Lloyd, Harrison’s attorney, said Wednesday. Lloyd, a former State Law Enforcement Division director, said he expected the latest charge to be part of Harrison’s October trial.
Harrison, who was in the Legislature from 1989 to 2012, has explanations for all the charges, said Lloyd, adding he and Harrison feel good about proving the former state representative’s innocence to a jury.
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Special prosecutor David Pascoe, who works with a team of State Law Enforcement Division agents, said Wednesday, “The indictment speaks for itself. I have no comment.”
Perjury, or giving false testimony, is a felony and carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine at the court’s discretion.
Last month, at a public hearing, Lloyd and Harrison asked state Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen to toss out the other charges against Harrison. Lloyd had argued Pascoe didn’t have enough evidence to indict him.
Mullen denied Harrison’s motion to dismiss the charges Tuesday, meaning his trial still is on for Oct. 22.
The latest indictment against Harrison, issued Aug. 23 but not announced, charges the Republican with making false statements under oath during confidential March 2017 testimony before the state grand jury. That grand jury was impaneled “to investigate public corruption involving current and former members of the S.C. General Assembly,” the indictment says.
Specifically, the indictment says, Harrison told state grand jurors that he began working for the Richard Quinn & Associates political consulting firm in 1999, while a member of the General Assembly. Harrison said his work for the Quinn firm was on other politicians’ campaigns “and nothing more.”
“However, Harrison provided very little, if any, work on political campaigns while employed by Richard Quinn & Associates,” the indictment says. “To the contrary, during this same time period, Harrison sponsored, co-sponsored and voted on Legislation that favored clients of Richard Quinn & Associates and met with corporate clients of Richard Quinn & Associates.”
From 1999 to 2012, when Harrison left the General Assembly, the Quinn firm paid the state representative “more than $800,000,” the indictment says.
During those years, Harrison was chairman of the influential House Judiciary Committee, through which roughly 40 percent of all House bills must pass. As chairman, Harrison had a large say-so in which bills were killed and which bills made it through his committee and into law.
The Quinn firm — dubbed the “Quinndom” — has been at the center of much of special prosecutor Pascoe’s ongoing four-year investigation into State House corruption, which has resulted in four guilty pleas from lawmakers so far. Pascoe is the elected solicitor in the 1st Circuit.
For decades, the Quinn firm, run by veteran political operative Richard Quinn, was one of the most influential in S.C. politics. It represented numerous high-profile politicians, from Gov. Henry McMaster to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham to state Attorney General Alan Wilson. It also represented numerous influential corporate and institutional clients, including the University of South Carolina, SCANA, the State Ports Authority, Palmetto Health hospitals, AT&T and BlueCross BlueShield.
In previous hearings, Pascoe has said Harrison, while he was a prominent, powerful lawmaker, violated state laws by keeping secret his hefty annual payments from the Quinn firm.
Since being indicted last October, Harrison has been suspended from his $155,000-a-year-plus job as director of the General Assembly’s Legislative Council, which helps draft proposed laws.