Crime & Courts

Once a top GOP consultant, Richard Quinn appears in court on perjury, other charges

How Richard Quinn Sr. allegedly used lawmakers to woo CEO for personal profit

Special Prosecutor David Pascoe read in court, an itinerary of a big business CEO visit to Columbia
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Special Prosecutor David Pascoe read in court, an itinerary of a big business CEO visit to Columbia

Once the leader of a powerful S.C. GOP consulting firm, Richard Quinn Sr. appeared in court Tuesday on the latest charges that have developed out of a years-long State House corruption probe.

Quinn, 74, waived his arraignment in a Richland County courtroom, avoiding having the counts against him — 11 counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice — read aloud and avoiding having to say his plea.

The charges are the second time Quinn has been indicted by a state grand jury in an ongoing corruption probe led by special prosecutor David Pascoe and investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division.

State Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman released Quinn on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond, typical in cases where the defendant is not deemed a flight risk or a danger to the community. One condition is Quinn can’t leave the state, unless granted permission.

Quinn plans to fight the charges, his attorney Deborah Barbier previously told The State.

When Newman asked Quinn whether he wanted to speak, Quinn responded, “No, ma’am.”

The April indictment alleges Quinn intentionally lied and misled the state grand jury about his involvement with state lawmakers, including his son, former House Majority Leader Rick Quinn, and Attorney General Alan Wilson, both Lexington Republicans.

The indictment said “Quinn intentionally gave incomplete and evasive testimony throughout to pervert, obstruct, impede, and hinder the ongoing investigation by the State Grand Jury.”

The probe has been a multi-year investigation of some of the most powerful GOP lawmakers and political forces in Columbia.

Since 2014, four seated GOP state legislators have pleaded guilty and left office: then-House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston; then-state Rep. Rick Quinn, the elder Quinn’s son; then-state Sen. John Courson, R-Richland; and then-Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley. A former lawmaker, Richland Republican Jim Harrison, was convicted and has appealed his 18-month sentence.

Charges are still pending against former state Rep. Tracy Edge, R-Horry.

In Richard Quinn’s latest indictment, he is accused of lying about why he helped Attorney General Wilson draft a 2015 letter to Pascoe attempting to stop Pascoe from further investigating State House corruption allegations. Wilson had removed himself from the case, citing conflicts of interest. The indictment says Quinn testified that Wilson’s office had no press secretary to draft statements. However, Wilson testified to the contrary, saying he did have communications staff.

Quinn previously was indicted in the probe in 2017, accused of using his powerful consulting firm, Richard Quinn & Associates, to illegally lobby lawmakers on behalf of the firm’s corporate clients, including AT&T and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

The charges were ultimately dropped by Pascoe — and RQ&A was fined for failing to register as a lobbyist — after Quinn agreed to testify under oath to the state grand jury in its ongoing investigation.

Reporter John Monk contributed to this story.

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Maayan Schechter (My-yawn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State, focusing primarily on the state budget and the lawmakers who decide how your tax dollars get spent. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.


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