Mix-up cited in crediting Bobby Harrell’s payment toward restitution in ethics case

Former House Speaker Bobby Harrell

A payment of more than $3,500 to the state by former S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell as part of his sentence for ethics violations was credited to the wrong account and didn’t violate his probation, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said Harrell correctly closed his campaign account because of his ethics plea but that $3,517 of that was incorrectly calculated toward his restitution when all of his campaign money should have gone to the state’s general fund.

“That was through no fault of Mr. Harrell,” said Pascoe, the special prosecutor appointed by state Attorney General Alan Wilson to investigate the criminal allegations against Harrell.

Issues surrounding Harrell’s payment were raised earlier this month by the Columbia-based public watchdog site The Nerve. According to the site’s report, as part of Harrell’s plea, his campaign money was to go only to the state’s general fund and could not be applied to his court-ordered restitution.

Pascoe said the clerical matter has since been corrected.

“It’s no longer an issue, it’s no longer a problem,” he said.

Harrell, R-Charleston, had been one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers as House Speaker. But he pleaded guilty in October to six counts of misusing his campaign account for personal benefit and resigned.

The six charges included several instances where Harrell claimed plane trips for legislative business, but the trips either never occurred or were deemed not to be official business. Harrell flew his own plane and received campaign reimbursements.

Under a plea deal, Harrell was placed on probation for three years, but no jail time. It also required him to resign his office and prevents him from holding public office for three years.

Harrell was ordered to pay $30,000 in fines for the six charges and pay around $94,000 to the state’s general fund as restitution for misusing campaign dollars.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.