Politics & Government

‘Drain the swamp:’ State House reacts to corruption indictments

FILE: Political consultant Richard Quinn talks with lawyers following a hearing at the Richland County Courthouse on Friday, June 23, 2017, in Columbia, S.C. Judge McMahon ruled in the hearing that special prosecutor David Pascoe can stay on the public corruption investigation into state lawmakers and can use documents seized during a March office raid. 6/23/17
FILE: Political consultant Richard Quinn talks with lawyers following a hearing at the Richland County Courthouse on Friday, June 23, 2017, in Columbia, S.C. Judge McMahon ruled in the hearing that special prosecutor David Pascoe can stay on the public corruption investigation into state lawmakers and can use documents seized during a March office raid. 6/23/17 online@thestate.com

After months of waiting, the other shoe finally dropped Wednesday.

GOP political consultant Richard Quinn was among five S.C. politicos slapped with criminal conspiracy indictments Wednesday, ending months of speculation that his firm is at the center of a long-secret investigation into corruption at the State House.

Charges also were filed against Quinn’s son, suspended state Rep. Rick Quinn Jr., R-Lexington; suspended state Sen. John Courson, R-Richland; former state Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, now S.C. Legislative Council director; and former state Rep. Tracy Edge, R-Horry.

Here’s how S.C. leaders and State House observers reacted:

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, via spokesman Brian Symmes

“As a former U.S. attorney and (S.C.) attorney general, the governor understands that these are serious charges and that, in order to maintain the public’s trust in its government, investigations like this need to run their course.”

2018 GOP gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton, via emailed statement

“Today’s news is bad, but not surprising: Columbia is corrupt, politicians are self-dealing, and it is all costing South Carolina too much. ... (C)rooked career politicians and the powerful special interests who control them are treating our state government like their own personal ATM — and we’ve paid the price in bigger, broken government. ... South Carolina needs a new generation of conservative leadership that will deliver for our taxpayers instead of the corrupt good ol’ boy system.”

Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, a 2018 GOP gubernatorial candidate, via emailed statement

“The cancer in our state government is growing, and I will not allow it to fester. We must restore integrity at the State House and give the government back to the people.”

S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas’s office, via emailed statement

“Acting in his capacity as chairman of the Legislative Council, House Speaker Jay Lucas has suspended Jim Harrison (who was indicted) as code commissioner and director, effectively immediately. and pending further action by the Legislative Council.”

S.C. House President Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, R-York

“I’m glad to see that the investigation is progressing. The most difficult thing for the Legislature is the investigation kind of hovering and not moving forward. The positive thing is that it’s progressing and potentially could come to an end.”

S.C. Democratic Party chairman Trav Robertson, via emailed statement

“It is time for Henry McMaster to finally and fully renounce any professional relationship he has with Richard Quinn, Rick Quinn or any business entity connected to the indicted parties. South Carolina deserves a governor that is above any ethical questions and McMaster has ensured that is not him.”

John Crangle, longtime government watchdog now with the S.C. Progressive Network

“Hopefully it’s going to help drain the swamp over there at the State House. It’s going to deal with some long-standing problems in state government and some people that are involved in a lot of shenanigans for a long time. I’m glad Pascoe is finishing the job he started out to do two years ago.”

Lynn Teague, S.C. League of Women Voters

“It is certainly not a surprise that Mr. Quinn (Sr.) was indicted. He is at the center of the network that has been under investigation for all of this time. We believe that resolving the questions about how his organization operated will be very helpful in addressing how current laws are working and how they’re not working.”

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks Maayan Schechter: 803-771-8657, @MaayanSchechter

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