Politics & Government

2 prosecutors in SC corruption investigation endorse McMaster in GOP runoff

In an effort to ward off criticisms of S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster for his past ties to Richard Quinn's political empire, two longtime Republican solicitors have endorsed the GOP incumbent, vouching for his honesty.

Solicitors Scarlett Wilson of Charleston and Kevin Brackett of Rock Hill, both of whom have played roles in the ongoing State House corruption probe, told The State newspaper they have known McMaster for years and have no doubts about his honesty.

During the GOP primary campaign — in which McMaster faces Greenville businessman John Warren in a June 26 runoff — the governor's opponents have questioned his integrity, citing his longtime links to S.C. political consultant Quinn.

Quinn's consulting firm and son — former state Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington — were charged in the State House corruption probe. For years, McMaster — first as attorney general and then as lieutenant governor — used Quinn as a political consultant. However, he dropped the Quinn firm a year ago, when Rick Quinn was indicted.

During the GOP primary, two of McMaster's opponents — Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson and Catherine Templeton of Mount Pleasant — charged that McMaster "can be bought," adding the governor "could be a target" in the continuing State House corruption probe.

But Wilson and Brackett, special assistant prosecutors in that investigation who are working under chief special prosecutor David Pascoe, expressed no concerns in endorsing McMaster.

McMaster "is a fair, honest and principled man," Brackett said Thursday, adding he has dealt with the Columbia Republican since he was attorney general, from 2002 to 2010. "I've never had any reason to question his character or his ethics."

In a text message to The State on Friday, Wilson cited McMaster's "dedication to the rule of law, integrity and his push for accountability" as reasons why he should be governor.

"Two prosecutors intimately involved in the corruption probe have now endorsed the governor because they know he is committed to the rule of law and to protecting South Carolinians, and that will speak volumes to the people of South Carolina," said McMaster campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg.

Brackett especially would be likely to know if McMaster were a target of special prosecutor Pascoe's investigation. Brackett oversaw the review of tens of thousands of emails seized in a 2017 raid on Quinn's offices in downtown Columbia.

Though he wasn't elected, Henry McMaster was sworn in as Governor of South Carolina after former Gov. Nikki Haley became U.S. Ambassador of the UN. Here is what we know of McMaster's policies since he took office.