Suspended South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, will appear in court tomorrow, but neither side is saying why.
A 10:30 a.m. Thursday hearing in state court, announced roughly 20 hours in advance sparked whispers about the future of a man who had once been one of South Carolina’s most powerful lawmakers.
Two newspapers (Charleston Post & Courier and The State newspaper) cited anonymous sources when they reported Wednesday evening that Harrell plans to plead guilty during the hearing. South Carolina Radio Network as a rule does not use anonymous sourcing for its reports, but can confirm 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe announced the hearing under circumstances that do match those of a typical guilty plea.
But neither prosecutors nor Harrell’s legal team are commenting until the hearing itself.
Harrell was indicted last month on nine counts related to accusations that he misused campaign funds and lied to state ethics officials in an attempt to cover it up. Prior to his arraignment, the Speaker had repeatedly insisted he did not intentionally violate the law.
If he were to plead guilty, Harrell would likely have to resign his leadership position and seat in the House. He suspended himself a day after his indictment, leading Speaker pro tempore Jay Lucas to take over as acting House Speaker. However, the Attorney General’s Office has maintained Harrell was automatically suspended as soon as the indictment was handed down by a grand jury.