The S.C. Statehouse (copy)

South Carolina Statehouse

COLUMBIA — A hearing has been scheduled in the South Carolina Statehouse corruption probe for May 23 in Columbia, an official with the State Grand Jury confirmed.

Jim Parks, clerk for the State Grand Jury, said Friday he could not discuss the subject of the hearing before Circuit Judge Knox McMahon. The hearing does not involve the one case being handled by the State Grand Jury involving Sen. John Courson, R-Columbia, his attorney Rose Mary Parham said Friday.

Little else is known about the hearing from sources around the Statehouse. The hearing is scheduled for the same day lawmakers are set to return to consider the state's $8 billion budget spending plan that takes effect July 1. 

McMahon is presiding because, as chief criminal judge in the 5th Judicial Circuit that includes Richland and Lexington counties, he handles issues involving State Grand Jury cases, Parks said.

While Courson's case for taking campaign cash for personal use remains with the State Grand Jury, Statehouse corruption charges against now-suspended state Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, are being handled in Richland County court.

Courson's case is expected to be transferred to Richland County court at some point. Both lawmakers, who have been suspended from office, have denied any wrongdoing.

In addition to indictments of Courson and Merrill, 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe's Statehouse corruption probe netted a guilty plea from former House Speaker Bobby Harrell on misuse of campaign cash.

All three lawmakers used Richard Quinn & Associates, a powerful Columbia area-based political consulting firm that has become a focal point of Pascoe's probe. Investigators have subpoenaed and received records from several state agencies and corporations that hired the firm run by Richard Quinn, whose son, Rick, is a state representative from Lexington.

Both Quinns were mentioned in a State Law Enforcement Division investigative report about possible Statehouse corruption conducted in the Harrell case. Courson's indictment accused the senator of receiving campaign money for personal use through Richard Quinn & Associates. 

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

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Columbia Bureau Chief

Shain is Columbia Bureau Chief for The Post and Courier. He was editor of Free Times and was a reporter and editor at The State, The Charlotte Observer and The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News.

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