Richard Quinn Sr. (copy) (copy) (copy)

Richard Quinn (center). File/Brad Nettles/Staff

COLUMBIA — Richard Quinn, one of the South’s top political kingmakers, was released on his own recognizance Tuesday while he awaits trial on 11 counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice in the sweeping S.C. Statehouse corruption probe.

The new allegations came more than a year after Quinn dodged other criminal charges in the investigation that has led to the resignation of four lawmakers, including his son. 

Quinn is accused of lying during two appearances before the State Grand Jury a year ago in cases against former state lawmakers Jim Harrison, John Courson and Rick Quinn, his son, according to the indictment. All are Republicans.

Richard Quinn also is accused of lying about his work for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.

Quinn, 74, faces up to 55 years in prison if convicted on all the perjury charges and up to 10 years on the obstruction charge.

Previous corruption charges against Quinn, including illegal lobbying and conspiracy, were dropped in 2017 as part of a guilty plea deal with Rick Quinn. Rick Quinn, a former House majority leader from Lexington, pleaded guilty to misconduct in office.

At the time, Richard Quinn’s political consulting firm Richard Quinn & Associates agreed to pay fines and restitution totaling $5,500 for illegal lobbying.

As part of his deal, Richard Quinn — who represented some of South Carolina’s most influential politicians, businesses and state agencies — agreed to testify before a state grand jury. His clients included Gov. Henry McMaster, Sen. Lindsey Graham, the University of South Carolina, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina.

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But that testimony landed Quinn in legal trouble again.

According to the indictment, Quinn is accused of telling grand jurors last year that he:

  • Wrote a draft letter for Wilson, a political client, about limiting the power of a special prosecutor. He said he did so because the attorney general did not have a press secretary. Wilson told the grand jury he had a press secretary on his staff at the time. Wilson has not been charged in the probe.
  • Had Harrison, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, handle some political campaigns and legal work while employed at RQ&A while he was in office. Other grand jury witnesses testified that Harrison did not perform legal or campaign work, and instead backed bills favoring Quinn clients. Harrison received the only prison term handed down in the probe after a jury found him guilty of perjury and misconduct in office.
  • Did not know at first about Courson, a Columbia state senator and a client of Quinn's firm, receiving reimbursements from his campaign account funneled through RQ&A. The pass-throughs, which totaled $160,000, were suggested by Quinn, authorities allege.

Courson could be a witness against Quinn. He was not sentenced after pleading guilty to misconduct in office nearly a year ago pending his cooperation with prosecutors.

When he was indicted last month, Quinn's attorney, Debbie Barbier, said the perjury charges are a rehash of earlier allegations that were dropped: “This is a different shade of lipstick on the same pig.”

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Columbia Bureau Chief

Andy Shain runs The Post and Courier's team based in South Carolina's capital city. He was editor of Free Times and has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Charlotte, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.

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