Once I stopped laughing at the March 29 headlines in The Post and Courier regarding Attorney General Alan Wilson, I realized that the ghost of Richard Nixon has arisen once again, this time within the offices of S.C.’s attorney general.
A plea deal was reached with former legislator Bobby Harrell a few years ago stipulating that Harrell disclose any information concerning any alleged wrongdoing by other legislators. Wilson appoints a special prosecutor, David Pascoe, to look into the matter.
The Post and Courier investigates the legislators’ perks and finds that some make millions of dollars a year by steering state business to companies that they or their family members own.
The attorney general issues an opinion that this type of action may be legal under S.C. ethics laws, an opinion that has less legal standing than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But The Post and Courier series showed that these actions, if legal, illustrate that South Carolina has among the most lax ethics laws in the nation.
Pascoe continues his investigation and then attempts to take evidence to a grand jury. Wilson fires him because Pascoe has suddenly “exceeded” his authority. Nixon, for a while, got away with firing special prosecutor Cox, but ultimately the facts were exposed and Nixon resigned. The legal process worked and disclosed Nixon’s years-long cover-up.
So now we citizens of South Carolina will have to wait until the legal process plays out and the facts are disclosed concerning this firing of a special prosecutor. Whatever the outcome, this fiasco will once again show the state of South Carolina as a backwater state when it come to ethics laws and the prosecution of possible ethics violations. I imagine that the ghost of Nixon is enjoying this spectacle.
Nicolas C. Lempesis
E. Ashley Avenue