A state judge will allow a Republican political consultant and four legislators linked to him stay out on bond while awaiting their trials on various misconduct and conspiracy charges.
Richard Quinn of the prominent Richard Quinn & Associates consulting group received a $15,000 bond Tuesday. Quinn was indicted by the State Grand Jury last week on several charges, including misconduct, criminal conspiracy, and failing to register as a lobbyist.
First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, who has been leading a Statehouse corruption probe ever since Attorney General Alan Wilson (a Quinn client) recused himself, accused Quinn of using his firms to pay at least three legislators and get their votes on issues he or his clients wanted. Pascoe tallied up roughly $1.3 million in payments from Quinn to those lawmakers.
“What the State believes it will prove is that (Quinn) used legislators, groomed legislators and conspired with legislators and others to violate multiple provisions in the state Ethics Act so they could all make money,” Pascoe told Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman in Tuesday’s hearing.
The legislators involved include his son State Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington; State Sen. John Courson, R-Richland; and former State Reps. Jim Harrison, R-Columbia; and Tracy Edge, R-North Myrtle Beach. All received $10,000 bonds on Tuesday. Quinn and Courson have already been suspended from the House after previous misconduct indictments earlier this year from the same investigation.
The younger Quinn insisted the charges were politically motivated. All accused are Republicans, while Pascoe was elected as a Democrat. The elder Quinn’s attorneys said they refuted the charges against him, while Courson’s attorney called the claims “boldfaced”
Courson was previously accused of paying Quinn’s firm in campaign cash, then receiving roughly $133,000 back into his personal accounts. Pascoe on Tuesday accused the senator of accepting the payments to vote how Quinn or his clients wanted.
Harrison and Edge worked part-time for RQA. Pascoe said in court that Harrison was paid $900,000 during his time at the head of the House Judiciary Committee, but never disclosed the income despite guiding legislation through the House which benefitted Quinn or his clients. Pascoe said Edge was paid at least $290,000 during his time on the House Ways & Means Committee, which drafts the House budget plan.
Edge was also charged with perjury last week. On Tuesday, Pascoe said Edge had told the State Grand Jury he was not aware of any lobbying Quinn did for any clients. However, the prosecutor identified an email he said confirmed Edge was aware that Quinn had done work to help the University of South Carolina.