Former South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell has until midnight Thursday to repay $113,475 in campaign money the Charleston Republican used on legal fees during his political corruption case.
The House Ethics Committee voted unanimously Sept. 1 that Harrell could not use money from his campaign account to pay his attorneys to try to fend off ethics charges. Harrell subsequently pleaded guilty to six criminal charges of misusing campaign cash, including falsifying trips on his personal plane.
The panel gave Harrell 30 days to submit the $113,475 that he spent on two Charleston attorneys to the state’s general fund.
The Ethics Committee has not heard from the former House leader, officials said. If he does not pay, the committee could turn to the S.C. Department of Revenue, the state’s tax agency, to help recover the money.
In a statement Sept. 1, Harrell said he received no notice of the Ethics Committee meeting, which took place a day before his first grandchild was born.
Efforts Wednesday to reach Harrell were unsuccessful.
Lawmakers and candidates can use campaign cash to pay lawyers if they are found innocent of ethics charges, House Ethics Committee Chairman Kenny Bingham, R-Lexington, has said.
However, Harrell, once one of the state’s most powerful politicians, agreed to resign from office and pay $124,000 in fines and penalties as part of his guilty plea nearly a year ago.
He also was required to send the remainder of the money in his campaign account to the state. After expenses, Harrell handed over the final $3,571 on Oct. 31, according to campaign records.
Harrell also agreed to three years of probation and to tell authorities about any illegal activity that he knew of by other state lawmakers. He is barred from seeking office for three years.