Rep. Bobby Harrell, Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives has been indicted on charges of corruption and misuse of campaign funds. Despite his protestations and denials, the grand jury verdict is not just crippling, it’s crushing.
Given the charges, the presentation of facts and the interest of federal prosecutors, if the allegations hold through trial and Harrell is convicted, losing the Speakership and his House seat are the very least of the damage he will suffer.
The word from the State House grounds is not if Harrell will be convicted, but on how many charges and the amount of time he will get in jail. Further, The State newspaper has pointed out a particularly interesting twist to the Harrell scandal:
The Charleston Republican paid himself $294,335.22 in “untaxed income” from his campaign accounts, according to one of those charges. Harrell is accused of using some of that money for his own expenses.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the high-profile case aren’t talking. But the words “untaxed income” suggest Harrell could get hit with some additional tax-related charges.
The Buzz turned to a trio of former federal prosecutors for their thoughts on whether Harrell could face more trouble for paying himself from his campaign accounts.
But there could – could – be even more to this. This story is not just about Bobby Harrell. A man of his power and reach doesn’t sully himself alone. It is more than likely that South Carolina is about to be visited upon by yet another wide-spread political disgrace. It is well known in State House circles, far moreso than the public is aware, that Bobby Harrell has more than a few legislators in his pocket. And his pocket is deep. It is this fact that necessitated Harrell’s case being handled by something other than South Carolina’s current ethics procedure. Bobby Harrell owns too many members of the general assembly for that to have been anything other than a whitewash.
Those pocketed members may well be sweating the proceedings. What will come out about them? Will Harrell flip them for a plea deal? Where will the money trail lead or from where will it come? How far, deep and wide did Harrell peddle his influence? Was it limited to politicians?
To quote the great intergalactic philosopher, teacher and military leader, Obi-wan Kenobi: “You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.“