SC House Speaker Bobby Harrell charged with misconduct

SC House Speaker Bobby Harrell charged with misconduct

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell has been indicted on multiple counts related to the misuse of his office for personal gain. First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe announced that the Richland County Grand Jury indicted Harrell on Wednesday on nine charges.

According to prosecutors, the nine indictments are for two counts of misconduct in office (statutory and common law), six counts of using campaign funds for personal use, and one count of false reporting candidate campaign disclosures.

The solicitor's office says a bond hearing date has not been set.

A press release by the solicitor's office states Harrell has been provided copies of his indictments but he will be allowed to formally accept service of the true billed indictments and attend his bond hearing on the same date.

Solicitor Pascoe stated, "At this point in the process, the indictments are mere accusations. Mr. Harrell is presumed innocent until proven guilty."

Those calling for Harrell to step down as speaker while the case plays out include Gov. Nikki Haley; her Democratic challenger, Sen. Vincent Sheheen; and state Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison.

Attorney General Alan Wilson had brought a state grand jury investigation against Harrell but ultimately removed himself from the case. The state Supreme Court ruled Wilson had the authority to investigate, overturning a lower court's order that a legislative ethics panel must first weigh in on an ethics complaint.

Harrell released the following statement Wednesday afternoon: 

"I have said all along that I have never intentionally violated any law, and I still strongly believe that statement to be accurate. 

"In no way have I ever benefited personally or financially from travel reimbursements from my campaign account. In fact, I have regularly used the privately raised funds from my campaign account to pay for official state travel instead of passing that cost along to taxpayers. Similarly, I have often used my own airplane, at no cost to the taxpayers, for official state travel when it would have been completely justifiable to have used the taxpayer-funded state plane instead. If over the course of four years, I mistakenly wrote down the wrong date on a handful of items, that is something that can easily be addressed."

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