SC House Speaker Bobby Harrell indicted

When state Attorney General Alan Wilson handed off his investigation of Speaker Bobby Harrell to First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, Harrell went around doing victory laps, as though it meant he was in the clear.

This afternoon, Pascoe announced that a Richland County grand jury had indicted the speaker. Pascoe’s statement:

First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe announces that the Richland County Grand Jury indicted Robert W. Harrell, Jr., Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, today on nine charges. The nine indictments are for two counts of Misconduct in Office (statutory and common law), six counts of Using Campaign Funds for Personal Use, and one count of False Reporting Candidate Campaign Disclosures.

A bond hearing date has not been set. Mr. Harrell has been provided copies of his indictments but he will be allowed to formally accept service of the true billed indictments and attend his bond hearing on the same date.

Once the date for service of the indictments and the bond hearing is set, the First Circuit Solicitor’s Office will provide ample notice to the media of the date and time. Solicitor Pascoe stated, “At this point in the process, the indictments are mere accusations. Mr. Harrell is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Solicitor Pascoe will have no further comment regarding this matter and respectfully requests that the media not contact his office regarding the case against Mr. Harrell. Any requests for indictments or future filings in this case should be directed to the Richland County Clerk of Court.

If you want to read the indictment itself, here it is.

Well, Mr. Pascoe certainly wasted no time on that. He’s either a really fast worker, or Mr. Wilson had already built him a pretty good case, it seems to me…

23 thoughts on “SC House Speaker Bobby Harrell indicted

  1. Doug Ross

    If we had term limits, a speaker would not have the same power to call in favors earned over 22 years in office to save him.

    Will he resign his position while under indictment?

  2. Lynn T

    Doug, in the original recommendations to the SC Commission on Ethics Reform (the McMaster/Medlock Commission) the League of Women Voters recommended limits on the number of terms that a Speaker or Pro Tem can serve. We recommended two, maximum. We limit the number of terms of a governor, who has much less power even after this past year’s reforms, and yet that has never been the problem. Historically the Speaker and Pro Tem often have developed entrenched power bases that dominate the state’s politics, although the holders of those offices are never subject a statewide vote. We don’t need across-the-board term limits to fix this. We need limits on terms in leadership positions, and we need less power concentrated in those positions.

    1. Doug Ross

      I’d definitely settle for that. But how do you get it passed unless the current leadership allows it?

      1. Lynn T

        That is the problem. I don’t know if either house has even considered limits, but certainly the person currently in power has an incentive to prevent change.

        1. Doug Ross

          It needs to be a question on a state-wide ballot… something Brad hates but the only way to overcome the control the leadership has to stop it.

          Let the people decide, not just one guy.

  3. Kathryn Braun Fenner

    I am appalled that I do not believe this will make one whit of difference unless he is actually convicted.

    Way to go, Pascoe! I guess the Harrell PR victory lap of a few weeks back was a tad premature….

  4. Karen Pearson

    If these accusations are true, and I suspect that they are given their persistence despite much effort by powerful people to bury them, then Mr. Harrell needs to lose his job. And given how much trouble he’s in about his airplane, I think any sentence should include long flights in economy class. What I’m truly concerned about however is that his fellow congressmen don’t seem to take this seriously. They didn’t pursue it when they had a chance, and Mr. Harrell seemed sure that if he could manage to get the investigation done by his peers, that he would not be in any serious trouble. That suggests to me that many of them are doing similar things, and are simply hiding them better.

    1. Doug Ross

      Will Vincent Sheheen comment on this? or since he knows he’ll be back in the Senate, he needs to wait to see how it plays out?

      I mean, he has plenty of time and money to spend on talking about Nikki Haley’s ethics. Here’s a real case for him to address.

    2. Lynn T

      What, oh, surely not, Karen! There are some very decent and honest people in the General Assembly, but oh yes, there are others who don’t want their own records examined very closely. We need routine audits of all disclosures, and not just by legislators. The ethics law covers all state and local officials. The Ethics Commission that oversees executive branch and local compliance has been starved of the funds needed to do routine audits, even on a sampling basis.

      However, look beyond that. Misuse of campaign funds is the subject of recent investigations because disclosures are required and it is possible to catch problems. Ask yourself what is going on with private income sources, for which disclosure is not required. What about those consulting fees, far exceeding in amount anything that most legislators can drag out of their campaign accounts to spend on a trip to Florida?

  5. Brad Warthen

    Just heard the report about this on NPR. Always interesting to hear the national take on a local story.

    I heard one sort-of error — the report seemed to think this grand jury and the state grand jury were the same. But the rest was on the money…

  6. Mark Stewart

    Who is going to be the judge to hear this one in Richland County?

    It does look to me as though the AG kept his powder dry on this one and astutely navigated the political and legal waters to land the plane (pun intended) in a less tainted venue.

    While these are legal crimes by Harrell, the political crime is, as stated, that the top state house positions are at the core of the state’s leadership woes.

  7. Brad Warthen

    I see that Joe McCulloch, Rep. Kirkman Finlay’s Democratic opponent, has issued this statement:

    “I call on House member Kirkman Finlay to join me in demanding that indicted Speaker Bobby Harrell immediately step down.

    South Carolina law calls for any House member who is indicted for a crime that carries a potential sentence of more than 2 years to be suspended by the Speaker and at least one of the charges fits that requirement.

    Obviously Bobby Harrell should suspend himself so that South Carolina government can operate unimpeded by his personal problems.

    While I know that Bobby Harrell and Kirkman Finley enjoy a close political and personal relationship, Kirkman should rise above politics and join me in urging Bobby Harrell to obey the law and step down.”

  8. Doug Ross

    Well, Sheheen has spoken… and he used this opportunity to slam Nikki Haley before tepidly saying that Harrell should step down “pending the outcome of this situation”.

    He just doesn’t get it. He isn’t running for captain of the “I Hate Nikki Haley” team.

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