Speaker Bobby Harrell addresses ethics probe

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell held a press conference Tuesday morning to address the attorney general's decision to send his case to the State Grand Jury.

The Office of South Carolina's attorney general released an announcement on Monday stating that the investigation into ethics complaints against Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell is now being referred to the State Grand Jury.

Speaker Harrell said he was both shocked and blindsided by the news, claiming both SLED and the Attorney General's Office continuously told him and his attorneys they found no areas of concern.

Harrell also said he wants Attorney General Alan Wilson to immediately release the SLED report, because it will show his actions and the actions of his campaign were in line with the State Ethics Act.

The Speaker went on to say the case will not be a distraction for him or the House as they begin their first day of session for the general assembly.

Yesterday, Harrell released the following statement regarding Monday's announcement by the SCAG:

"It is disappointing that the Attorney General notified the press before contacting my attorneys or me about this decision. 

"This decision contradicts every indication that SLED and the Attorney General's Office have given us on the progress of this investigation.  I have cooperated fully and voluntarily with this investigation, provided access to everything they requested and met with investigators for several interviews.

"At every stage of this investigation it was reiterated to us that investigators have found no areas of concern. Given every indication we have received from SLED and the Attorney General, I am disappointed and shocked by this sudden change of course. 

"This has drawn on for far too long and been done behind closed doors.  I call on the Attorney General to immediately release the entire SLED report to the public.  This report contains the facts of this matter, facts that have been kept from the public and even kept from my attorneys and me."

The complaint that sparked the investigation was filed by Ashley Landess of the South Carolina Policy Council.

Landess is accusing Harrell of using his political influence to get a permit for his pharmaceutical business.

She also accused him of nepotism by appointing his brother to a committee that screens judicial candidates. Harrell is also accused of using his campaign funds to pay for some of his travel expenses and not having the proper receipts.

In the past, Harrell has called the complaints against him an attack driven by a personal and political vendetta.

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