A once praised State Senator now finds himself ousted in scandal.
Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant suspended State Sen. John Courson, R-Richland on Friday after a Grand Jury indicted Courson on charges of misconduct in office and conversion of campaign funds to personal use. Under Chapter 13 Article 8 of the State Constitution Courson will remain suspended for the duration of his court hearing and if convicted he will be forced to vacate his position as a Senator.
According to the indictments, Courson is accused of funneling more than $250,000 in campaign cash through a firm linked to South Carolina political consultant Richard Quinn. According to the indictment, the firm then returned about $133,000 of that money to Courson through various payments.
Courson has served in the Senate since 1985. He would be the third lawmaker indicted in a wide-ranging probe of alleged public corruption in the General Assembly. That probe, spearheaded by First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe at the request of state Attorney General Alan Wilson has already obtained indictments against former House Speaker Bobby Harrell in 2014 and State Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island, in December on ethics-related or misconduct charges.
The charges against Courson are a surprise to many in the house. Courson had never been linked to the State House probe before Thursday and received government watchdog awards from Common Cause in 2013 for his work to toughen restrictions on campaign finance and pass ethics reform.