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South Carolina media outlets file lawsuit over documents in ongoing Statehouse corruption probe

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Six news organizations, including The Post and Courier, filed an open records lawsuit Thursday against the South Carolina House Republican Caucus after being stonewalled by the lawmakers group.

The lawsuit, which seeks financial records tied to the ongoing Statehouse corruption investigation, comes after the caucus refused to disclose records related to payments made to Mail Marketing Strategies or state Rep. Rick Quinn.

Quinn, a Lexington Republican who was the House Majority leader from 2001-04, is the son of Richard Quinn. Both are longtime campaign consultants for some of the state’s top political figures, including Gov. Henry McMaster. Mail Marketing Strategies is a direct-mail firm owned by Rick Quinn.

The Quinns were mentioned in a 2013 State Law Enforcement Division investigative report looking into potential Statehouse corruption. Investigators have requested documents from several state agencies and businesses for records of their dealing with Richard Quinn.

They also reportedly seized records from Richard Quinn's Columbia office. Richard Quinn's consulting firm was named in the indictment of state Sen. John Courson, a Columbia Republican accused of receiving campaign cash for personal use through Richard Quinn & Associates.   

The Quinns have not been charged in the probe and have denied any wrongdoing. 

Joining The Post and Courier in suing for access to the caucus records are The State Media Co., Greenville News owner Gannett GP Media, S.C. Press Association, S.C. Broadcasters Association and The Associated Press.

The lawsuit argues that the S.C. Republican Caucus is supported by public funds and therefore is a "public body," making it subject to public records through the state Freedom of Information Act.

The caucus also refused to let members of the press attend and record its meetings, according to the lawsuit filed by media attorney Jay Bender, who is representing the six news outlets.

Mark Moore, attorney for the caucus, denied the documents requests, saying he concluded the "requests are not appropriately directed to the (S.C. House Republican Caucus)."  

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