BlueCross BlueShield

COLUMBIA — BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina acknowledged Thursday it has responded to a request for information from the grand jury investigating corruption at the S.C. Statehouse.

The state's largest health insurer did not provide details regarding the request.

“Like many other organizations in South Carolina, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina received a grand jury subpoena on this issue, to which it responded," the company said in a statement. "Under South Carolina law, grand jury proceedings are secret.”

BlueCross joins the State Ports Authority and the University of South Carolina in confirming that investigators have sought information in the probe that has led to the guilty plea of one top lawmaker and indictments against two others.

The investigation, led by special prosecutor David Pascoe, has centered recently on the dealings by powerful political consultant Richard Quinn, whose clients include four of the seven elected officials in the order of succession for governor, including Gov. Henry McMaster.

One of Quinn's clients, state Sen. John Courson, was indicted last week for taking about $130,000 in campaign cash funneled through Quinn's firm, for personal use. Quinn has said all the allegations against Courson are false. Quinn has not been charged in the probe. 

The State reported Thursday, citing unidentified sources, that State Law Enforcement Division agents seized documents from Quinn's firm, Richard Quinn & Associates. Quinn declined to answer questions about the word of raid when reached by The Post and Courier on Thursday.

In addition to politicians, Richard Quinn & Associates has done work for state agencies, nonprofits and businesses, including Cayce-based power utility SCANA.

A SCANA spokesman would not comment Thursday if the company received a request for information in the Statehouse probe.  

"It is not our practice to comment publicly regarding pending or ongoing legal matters," spokesman Eric Boomhower said in a statement. "SCANA has had a contractual relationship with Richard Quinn & Associates that dates back to the mid-1990s. It’s an annual retainer relationship through which we can seek their counsel regarding public policy strategies."

AT&T, another company identified by sources with knowledge as receiving an information request, declined comment on Thursday, though the communications giant noted it "responds to requests for information in compliance with applicable law."

The three companies — AT&T, BlueCross and SCANA — have contributed almost $425,000 combined to statewide political races over the past two decades, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Hunley, a Charleston nonprofit that supports the restoration and conservation of the famed Civil War submarine and did work with Richard Quinn & Associates, has not received a subpoena, Hunley president Kellen Correia said.

Clemson University, which has partnered with Friends of the Hunley, "is unaware of any employee involvement or document production associated with the ongoing investigation initiated by Solicitor Pascoe," the school said.

Other state agencies have produced documents for Statehouse investigators. The Post and Courier first reported this week the Ports Authority handed over records regarding invoices and correspondence with Quinn's Columbia-based political consulting firm.

USC has not said what information was requested. Quinn has been a consultant at the state's flagship university, while McMaster received more than $450,000 over four years to raise money to build a new law school before he became lieutenant governor in 2015.

McMaster's chief of staff in the governor's office, Trey Walker, is a former employee at Quinn's firm and was a lobbyist for USC and BlueCross.

Tony Bartelme contributed to this report.

Reach Andy Shain at 803-445-4904. Follow him on Twitter: @andyshain

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.