Rick Quinn quits, pleads guilty; charges dropped on his dad

A very big day on the State House corruption probe front:

South Carolina Rep. Rick Quinn could be sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to misconduct in office in the criminal conspiracy case against him and his father, longtime GOP powerbroker Richard Quinn.

Rick Quinn in happier times.

Rick Quinn in happier times.

Rep. Quinn, R-Lexington, agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count, knowing prosecutors were still seeking prison time. Quinn, 52, resigned his seat ahead of the hearing at the Richland County courthouse, ending 22 years in the House. That makes him the second legislator to resign this year in the Statehouse corruption probe that has focused on the Quinns.

Judge Carmen Mullen accepted the plea deal but delayed sentencing. Quinn also faces a $1,000 fine.

The plea deal dropped charges against his 73-year-old father….

Here are some of the questions these developments raise:

  • Why is Pascoe seeking the maximum penalty against Quinn fils while letting Quinn père get off? Actually, that’s two questions. Let’s take the first: Pascoe is demanding the judge give Rick “every day of that year.” It appears Pascoe is really ticked that Rick refused to cooperate in any way, unlike previous pleaders. (Personally, prison time seems excessive — but then, I think prison should be reserved for violent offenders. Also, I remain confused about exactly Rick is pleading guilty to doing. Maybe it will be clearer in tomorrow’s stories.)
  • Now, the second: If Pascoe’s so bound and determined to nail the son’s hide to the wall, why let the dad off in the same plea deal? Well, unlike Rick, Richard is expected to testify before the grand jury.
  • Uninformed speculation from a couple of attorneys I’ve been chatting with tonight, one of whom was in the courtroom, is that Quinn’s going to help Pascoe bring in a really big fish. Who? Well, considering that some of the biggest Republicans in the state were Richard’s clients, the sky is sort of the limit.
  • John Monk’s story tonight hints that the big fish could be A.G. Alan Wilson — you know, the guy who appointed Pascoe before trying unsuccessfully to fire him. If so, it would be possibly the wildest development I’ve seen in 30 years of following S.C. politics. Think about it: It would be the final round in the biggest grudge match in recent years. Ahab and the whale. Smiley and Karla (if you’re into le Carre). Wile E. Coyote getting the Roadrunner. So much bad blood there that it seems Pascoe should in turn recuse himself and have someone (but who? who would have the authority in such a case?) appoint yet another prosecutor. It sort of boggles the mind….
  • Why does the Charleston paper’s headline say, “Rep. Rick Quinn pleads guilty in S.C. corruption case in deal that drops charges for kingpin father?” (OK, only other journalists will care about this one, I admit.) “Kingpin” is more something you call someone who’s been convicted. Weird to peg someone who just had his charges dropped with such a sensational sobriquet. Maybe there’s something I’m missing here…

This is definitely not over. I think…


12 thoughts on “Rick Quinn quits, pleads guilty; charges dropped on his dad

    1. Juan Caruso

      The reported and your respected colleague’s predicted sentencing outcomes are very troubling o me.
      It is obviously past time time for judicial and SC government reforms, in my opinion. Yet voter inertia in SC continues to encourage and tolerate government incompetence, corruption and abuses.

      Show me one politician bold enough to reform SC’s antiquated governing laws. If I thought Vincent Sheheen would really benchmark SC to a state with nationally superiorl best government practices, I might even be tempted to vote for him…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Well, actually, you SHOULD have voted for Vincent when he was running. The bill that did away with the unconstitutional Budget and Control Board was his…

        He’s a guy who understands the structural failings of our weird system, and has worked to correct them, with some success.

        The closest you can get to voting for Vincent this year would be to go with his close ally (the two of them and Joel Lourie have often been called the Three Musketeers), James Smith…

        1. Juan Caruso

          Not quite, Brad. I said, “If I thought Vincent Sheheen would really benchmark SC to a state with nationally superiorl best government practices.” What other state’s related best practices had Sheheen ever noted for that comparison? (so that voters have a benchmark making him even slightly accountable? If anyone might know that answer, it would probably be you.

  1. Doug Ross

    Another domino falls, exposing what many of us already believed. The State House is a cesspool of people who use their office for personal financial gain. Tenure leads to power which leads to corruption. Being able to make the rules that provide the false impression of accountability makes legislators ALMOST immune to prosecution. And, sorry, but I will never believe that the majority of the rest of the legislators who ARE squeaky clean weren’t aware of what the Quinns, Harrell, Merrill, and Courson were doing. They never spoke up (I’m looking at you, Vincent Sheheen and James Smith). It”s a good old boys club built around two parties solely interested in self-preservation.

    Alan Wilson is probably having a bad case of heartburn today. But I’m hoping that he’s not the top guy. There’s one name that I will be thrilled to see appear on the indictments that are coming.

    1. Richard

      Yet another example for term limits.

      Is the person Doug is hoping to see have a last name that sounds like Smeatherman?

  2. Doug Ross

    And here’s some other tidbits that need to be addressed:

    From The State:
    ▪ Numerous big companies, including the embattled SCANA utility, paid more than $4 million to Richard Quinn & Associates that wasn’t reported on required ethics filings.

    ▪ USC paid RQ&A $514,000 over a five-year period. In return, Rick Quinn sponsored amendments that USC proposed, Pascoe said.

    ▪ AT&T paid RQ&A more than $400,000. When one lawmaker, former House Majority Leader Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, blocked legislation that AT&T wanted, Richard Quinn told Merrill that a Quinn client wanted the legislation passed. Later, ATT chief Pam Lackey told others that Merrill agreed to the bill, Pascoe said.

    Should someone take the fall at USC? What was the return on “investment” to the Quinns? Who profited?

  3. Bill

    “To plant a family! This idea is at the bottom of most of the wrong and mischief which men do. The truth is, that, once in every half century, at longest, a family should be merged into the great, obscure mass of humanity, and forget all about its ancestors.”

  4. Richard

    Jr. will likely serve 2 months home confinement.

    Sr. who will be fined $3,000 for taking $4 million in illegal payments and tattling on those who paid him will just be forced to retire. Oh no, what will an 80-something with $4 million in the bank do???

    Unless they lock Jr. up for a year and force Sr. to pay back the majority of the payoff money justice will not be served. Just another day in SC politics… this stuff doesn’t even surprise me anymore. I’ve lived for an extended period of time in 4 different states, not one touches the corruption I’ve seen in South Carolina.


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