Prosecutors really had Harrell over a barrel

Carolyn Callahan of WIS Tweeted this just before the hearing, showing the isolated ex-speaker in the courtroom. Hope she doesn't mind my sharing it here...

Carolyn Callahan of WIS Tweeted this just before the hearing, showing the isolated ex-speaker in the courtroom. Hope she doesn’t mind my sharing it here…

There’s a country song in there somewhere.

The man who was arguably the most powerful person in state government, boasting only a few weeks ago about how the attorney general had failed to bring him down, pleaded guilty today to six counts against him, and still has other charges hanging over his head. The terms, as reported by John Monk:

In a plea hearing at the Richland County courthouse, Harrell was given six one-year prison sentences but all were suspended by circuit court Judge Casey Manning after Harrell, 58, agreed to the following conditions in a written plea agreement:

• Harrell agrees not to seek or hold public office for three years. He also will be on probation during that time. The Charleston Republican was first elected to the House in 1993.

• Harrell will pay a $30,000 fine plus an additional $93,958 to the general fund of South Carolina. Harrell will also turn over all of his remaining campaign account to the state’s general fund. That amount was not immediately available.

• Harrell agrees to cooperate with state and federal prosecutors, including being ready to testify “fully and truthfully at any trials or other proceeding” in state or federal court. Harrell must submit to polygraph examinations….

Here’s perhaps the most interesting part:

In getting Harrell’s cooperation to be a potential government witness, prosecutor Pascoe agreed to “nol pros,” or not prosecute four other indictments against Harrell. However, under a written plea agreement, Pascoe reserves the right to re-activate the indictments and prosecute Harrell if the former speaker lies to law enforcement officials.

Such written plea agreements – in which lighter sentences are given, and some charges are dropped, in return for a criminal’s information about other potential crimes involving other people – are common in federal criminal court. In federal court, defendants also agree to submit to lie detector tests and they know that dropped charges can be brought again if the government catches the defendant in a lie…

So it looks like prosecutors pretty much have Bobby Harrell on a leash for the foreseeable future. How the mighty have… well, you know the rest. But who foresaw it happening so quickly and dramatically in this case?


26 thoughts on “Prosecutors really had Harrell over a barrel

  1. Doug Ross

    Hopefully this will lead to additional politicians doing the “perp walk”. There have to be a lot of people in the State House sweating this morning.

    Doesn’t this also serve as a major embarrassment for Judge Casey Manning? It seemed like he was doing everything he could to help Harrell avoid prosecution.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Sorry, Doug. I just noticed that this comment had been awaiting moderation for hours.

      It unfortunately contains a word, or name, that caused it to be automatically held awaiting approval.

      Oh, you want to know WHICH name or word? You think I’m gonna spill something like that? What do I look like Edward Snowden or something?…

  2. Doug Ross

    Don’t we have the South Carolina Policy Council and reporter Renee Dudley of the Post & Courier to thank for exposing Harrell’s misdeeds? And Will Folks for not letting up on the story.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, the Policy Council certainly. I didn’t really follow the P&C coverage enough to know. And Will — well, Will Folks has a tendency to see everybody he doesn’t like or agree with as a crook or something worse, and to say so. Like you, he always assumes the worst. His being right in this case is sort of like the accuracy of a stopped watch.

      And you know, I don’t like praising the Policy Council, but they did the state a service on this one. So did John Monk and Cindi Scoppe — John for blowing the lid off of Harrell’s secret machinations to throw Wilson off the case, and Cindi for revealing the efforts by House colleagues to get the speaker off the hook, and for keeping a scorching spotlight on what Judge Manning and the Supremes were doing.

      Among public officials, Wilson stands as the most visible hero in the story (with prosecutor Pascoe doing yeoman’s work as well). This may boost his political career, and that’s a good thing. I certainly second The State’s strong endorsement of his re-election: “Alan Wilson’s courage, tough-mindedness merit a second term as SC attorney general.”

      1. Lynn T

        Renee Dudley of the P & C did the investigative journalism that revealed the problems. she deserves recognition for her solid work.

  3. Doug Ross

    “Like you, he always assumes the worst.”

    This is completely untrue. I don’t always assume the worst when it comes to people in general. With politicians, I give them the benefit of the doubt until they demonstrate otherwise. Unfortunately, the standard operating procedure to achieve success in politics more often than not requires unethical behavior.

  4. Doug Ross

    Here’s another area where we can see if the system is corrupt or not. Harrell will have to withdraw his name from the ballot for the upcoming election. Absentee ballots with his name have already been cast.
    Under no circumstances should Republicans be allowed to replace Harrell’s name once the ballots have been printed… but then I read this on the Charleston City Paper site and it got me concerned:

    “State election law does provide for the replacement of candidates when one withdraws, dies, or is disqualified after ballots are printed, but it’s unclear at this time how the state will proceed. One possible scenario under state law would make votes cast for Harrell’s name count for another candidate duly nominated to take Harrell’s place as the Republican candidate.”

    How in the world could they apply votes for Harrell to another candidate? If that happens, it’s just another indicator of how rigged the system is for the parties.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That would indeed be outrageous. Of course, y’all know my views on this — I don’t think ballots should even indicate a party affiliation, much less allow this kind of madness.

      And I think anyone who votes a straight ticket, or for that matter votes according to party and not according to an assessment of the individual candidate, should be barred from voting forever. Or if not forever, at least not until after they’ve completed a three-year course at the Brad Warthen Political Re-education Camp and Barbecue Emporium…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I don’t see this as a possible corruption–the law allows it. What would you do to deal with this situation?

        1. Doug Ross

          Disregard any votes for Harrell since he will not be running. That’s pretty simple. If the Republicans want to name a replacement, that person can be chosen via write in ballots. That option is available. It also means people have to know who they are voting for.

          1. Doug Ross

            The corruption comes as part of the process of creating laws that help support the two main parties. Would they hold a special election if the libertarian candidate was convicted of a crime a week before the election? No. Convince me otherwise.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            You have chosen…wisely. I’d volunteer to join your re-education camp on the condition you’re serving BBQ. One of my top five all time favorite BBQ joints is in Memphis – Rendezvous.

            Now that I think about it, I should actually do a BBQ post over on my own blog on that top 5 list.

            1. Doug Ross

              I visited Corky’s many times while on my assignment in Memphis last years. Good stuff. I love me some hush puppies.

  5. Norm Ivey

    I love the provision that he has to submit to polygraphs, and if he fails, he can go to prison. As Doug observed, there have got to be some really anxious folks downtown this evening.

  6. Bart

    One other person is missing on the bench with Harrell. Another prominent politician at the top of the political food chain in SC.

Comments are closed.