A state judge set a February trial date for an indicted South Carolina legislator, the first case in a large Statehouse corruption probe to actually go before a jury.
State Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, will face misconduct in office and conspiracy charges on February 26. The date was set Tuesday in a Beaufort courtroom by Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen. Mullen meanwhile delayed two other cases involving Quinn’s father — Republican political consultant Richard Quinn — and State Sen. John Courson.
The Hilton Head Island Packet reports Quinn’s attorney asked the court for a relatively quick trial so any “not guilty” verdict could be reached ahead of a deadline for legislators to register for a reelection campaign. Quinn is accused of not reporting how businesses he and his family own benefitted from actions that House Republicans took while he was majority leader and taking payments from groups which had issues before the House. He has been suspended from office since his indictment in May, but maintains he did nothing illegal.
The older Quinn was indicted last month on criminal conspiracy and illegal lobbying charges. Courson is accused of laundering more than $160,000 in campaign cash for his personal use. Courson’s attorney requested more time to prepare for the case, citing 1.4 million pages of bank records, interviews by state agents and grand jury transcripts.
All three have denied violating the law, with the younger Quinn arguing his actions were legal and cleared by House ethics attorneys.
The younger Quinn will be the first lawmaker to actually schedule a jury trial since First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe began prosecuting the probe in 2014. Previous legislators caught up in the probe, such as former House Speaker Bobby Harrell and now-former State Rep. Jim Merrill, ended up submitting guilty pleas to avoid a trial. Courson, and former State Reps. Jim Harrison and Tracy Edge still have charges pending against them.