South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson was clearly angry Wednesday about accusations his office is blocking a potential corruption investigation into the Statehouse.
During a news conference, Wilson defended his office’s removal of the lead prosecutor in that investigation. The attorney general argued First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe improperly went around his authority in seeking to impanel the State Grand Jury. In filings with the state Supreme Court last week, Pascoe claimed Wilson’s office was preventing him from convening the grand jury. The attorney general strongly denies doing so (For more information on that dispute, click here).
Wilson also claimed Pascoe “tainted” the investigation due to leaks in the ongoing investigations, and hinted Pascoe himself had notified reporters of his court filings over grand jury proceedings normally kept sealed.
At one point in Wednesday’s news conference, Wilson got into an argument with journalist John Monk of The State newspaper over Monk’s source for Pascoe’s court filings. The State’s reporting on Monday had made public Wilson’s dispute with Pascoe. After the reporter asked whether Wilson would try to keep future Supreme Court filings confidential, Wilson said he would answer the question if Monk explained “how you knew to walk into the Supreme Court shortly after the pleadings were (filed)?”
AUDIO: Wilson challenges reporter from The State newspaper (1:12)
Monk refused to answer, “I don’t think my reporting’s at issue here,” he said, as Wilson tried to continue. “You’re the one who’s on the spot for possibly impeding an investigation. And you know what I think of you. I hold you in high esteem.”
“I’m happy to answer your question,” Wilson responded. “You proved my point, though.”
“Which point was that?” Monk asked.
“That you can’t answer (my question),” Wilson said, before continuing. “All right, we have no problem…”
“Reporters never answer how they find out things, Mr. Attorney General,” Monk said, talking over Wilson loudly enough to prevent the attorney general from continuing. “You know that. You know that. Your father (US Rep. Joe Wilson) knows that.”
“John, I confirmed today that you walked in shortly after it was filed,” Wilson snapped. “I don’t know how you knew they were filed, but someone tipped you off.”
“I’ve been doing that for 40 years,” Monk said. “Nothing new about that.”
“Over Easter?” Wilson noted sarcastically, before answering it would be up to the Supreme Court whether or not to make the documents public.
Wilson later offered a small olive branch, saying he did not intend to “fight” with Monk “in public.”
“No fight,” Monk responded. Neither man brought up the issue again as other reporters asked further questions.