South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson pushed back against a grand jury report which accused him of impeding a Statehouse corruption probe, calling it “riddled with already-disproven political innuendo and baseless conjecture.”
The State Grand Jury report released by a judge’s order Tuesday claimed Wilson delayed and undermined an investigation which centered around his former Republican political consultant Richard Quinn. The probe was led by First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, a Democratic prosecutor who was first assigned by Wilson before the AG’s Office unsuccessfully tried to fire him for convening the grand jury without Wilson’s approval.
Seven Republicans — including six former legislators — were indicted in the probe, with four ultimately pleading guilty to misconduct. Jury trials are still scheduled against two others. Criminal conspiracy charges were ultimately dropped against the seventh individual GOP consultant Richard Quinn, although he agreed that his company First Impressions, Inc., (also known as Richard Quinn & Associates) would pay $3,000 in restitution for illegal lobbying.
The report claims Wilson impeded the investigation by not acting on a State Law Enforcement Division report into potential corruption against Quinn and others, then trying to remove Pascoe for convening the grand jury without his office’s approval. The report maintains the 13-month turf battle allowed the statute of limitations to expire for potentially more severe charges.
Wilson on Tuesday called the report “an entirely political smear less than a month from an election.” He said the public should dismiss its claims “as just that.” He questioned the timing of its release, which came after several news organizations last week requested a state judge unseal the more than 200-page document. Attorneys for one of the convicted former legislators Rick Quinn had argued against the move.
The attorney general is seeking a third term in next month’s election against Democratic challenger and former Charleston Law School professor Constance Anastopoulo.
The grand jury report did note that Wilson had offered “legitimate reasons” for his actions and it did not accuse the Republican attorney general of criminal acts, but it questioned his judgment for continuing to correspond with Quinn and other individuals under investigation by the prosecutor he had assigned.
Wilson’s statement released to news outlets on Tuesday did not identify which parts of the grand jury report he believed to be baseless or disproven. His campaign spokesman has not responded to interview requests as of noon Wednesday.