A grand jury was ordered to stop investigating South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell. The judge ruled that only the Republican's colleagues and friends in the state House Ethics Committee can begin a probe into allegations of corruption against him.
In 2013, the South Carolina Policy Council filed a complaint with Alan Wilson, Republican state attorney general. The complaint accused Harrell of misusing his position by allegedly pressuring regulators on behalf of his own business and improperly reimbursing himself $325,000 in campaign funds for use of his plane. After a 10-month probe by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Wilson convened a grand jury to investigate the matter in January.
Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning held a hearing on whether Wilson or the state House Ethics Committee should consider the complaint against Harrell whose lawyer argued that the ethics committee, filled with Harrell's friends and colleagues, alone has the authority to state such an investigation. If the committee found a reason to continue, then it would pass along potential violations to the attorney general.
The circuit court judge agreed and ruled in Bobby Harrell's favor, writing that Manning found that Harrell's alleged misdeeds would constitute civil, not criminal, violations of the state's ethics laws.
"We are pleased with the court's ruling that the politically motivated exceptions forced on this matter were inappropriate and that the proper legal process — not a political process — should be followed," said Bobby Harrell, reported the Huffington Post.
The South Carolina Policy Council, on the other hand, is not pleased with the outcome.
"I can't emphasize enough how bad this is and how dangerous it is," Ashley Landess, president of the South Carolina Policy Council. "It is about citizens' right to an advocate in the criminal justice system when it comes to politicians and corruption."
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson who is appealing Manning's ruling said on The Bryan Crabtree Show that Manning did not apply the law correctly.
Wilson said there were pages of our argument completely omitted from his order. "It (Judge Manning's ruling) didn't even recognize the criminal SLED investigation … he never ever once mentioned that there was a 10 month criminal conducted by SLED, he never once mentioned that," said Wilson.
Harry Kibler, founder of RINO HUNT, and 9 candidates running in the Republican Party primary organized a press conference yesterday to speak out against Judge Manning's ruling. The press conference highlighted four points: the corruption in the General Assembly, a call to abolish the self-policing policies in the House and Senate, a call to reform the Judicial Selection process, and support for the Attorney General Alan Wilson to continue to investigate Speaker Bobby Harrell.
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