The South Carolina State Grand Jury has handed down a two-count perjury indictment against a former Columbia legislator ahead of his corruption trial next month.
The new indictment claims former State Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Columbia, made false testimony to the grand jury last year as it looked into a Republican consulting firm. According to the indictment, Harrison told the panel last year he was paid by the Richard Quinn & Associates firm for his work on other political campaigns. But it notes that Harrison gave a much different description 18 years earlier, when he described himself as the firm’s “Chief Operating Officer” who “manages the day-to-day operations.”
Harrison’s attorney Reggie Lloyd told The State newspaper, which first reported the indictment’s existence Wednesday, he believes the new charge is an attempt to intimidate Harrison into reaching a plea deal before his October trial. Lloyd said the former lawmaker was confident about proving his innocence to a jury.
Harrison is among the six former legislators charged as part of the ongoing corruption probe led by First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe. He and former State Rep. Tracy Edge, R-North Myrtle Beach, are the only two who have not yet settled their cases. Harrison served in the state House of Representatives from 1989 until 2012, including as chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee. While the charges cover his time in the chamber, he had retired and was serving as state code commissioner before last year’s indictments.
The Grand Jury indicted Harrison last year on conspiracy charges. Pascoe accused Harrison of taking payments from political consultant Richard Quinn to influence his vote on certain bills. Harrison was listed as a part-time employee of Quinn’s consulting firm. Pascoe said Harrison was paid $880,000 over his time at the firm, but never disclosed the income despite guiding legislation through the House which benefitted Quinn’s clients.
Last month’s indictment bases the perjury charges on written comments Harrison made to the House Ethics Committee in 1999. Harrison told the committee at the time that he “recently accepted the position of Partner and Chief Operating Officer with Richard Quinn & Associates… As Chief Operating Officer (a salaried position), my responsibilities would include managing the day-to-day operations of the firm, as well as providing public relations/corporate communications services for its clients.”
The indictment also claims Harrison misled the grand jury when he said he later became a “contract consultant” and had his salary reduced. Harrison told the grand jury the move was done because he no longer had the time to work for the firm while in the legislature. However, the indictment notes Quinn told FBI investigators he took the pay cut because Richard Quinn & Associates was experiencing “cash flow” problems.