Special prosecutor David Pascoe can stay on the public corruption investigation into state lawnmakers and use documents seized in March, a judge ruled Friday morning.
Political consultant Richard Quinn had asked the judge to remove Pascoe and to not allow him to use information seized during a raid on Quinn’s offices. Quinn’s attorney argued the raid was botched.
Although lawyers familiar with such cases describe Judge Knox McMahon’s decision as a simple one, it has taken the judge almost four months to issue a ruling.
Meanwhile, Pascoe and his SLED investigators have largely been on hold.
On March 2, more than a half-dozen State Law Enforcement Division agents, using a search warrant, staged a surprise raid on Quinn’s offices at 1600 Gervais St., a block from the new University of South Carolina Law School. Quinn is the most prominent public relations and political consultant in South Carolina, with numerous influential clients on the local, state and federal levels.
The agents raided Quinn’s offices on a directive from Pascoe, who has been using the State Grand Jury and its subpoena powers to investigate allegations of possible public corruption by state lawmakers. At the time of the raid, Pascoe and the State Grand Jury had already indicted two lawmakers.
That day, agents seized from Quinn’s firm a large amount of documents and computer data, including tax returns. However, Quinn’s lawyers objected immediately to the seizure, arguing that the search was unlawful and, therefore, Pascoe must return all seized material and cannot use it in his investigation.
Since then, Quinn’s lawyers and Pascoe have fought a legal duel, largely behind the scenes and before Judge McMahon, about whether Pascoe can use the material.
Quinn’s lawyers contend the raid was bungled and SLED unlawfully seized material protected under attorney-client privilege. Pascoe has asserted the search was lawful, that he had provisions in place to sift out confidential material.
In any case, objections by Quinn’s lawyers have meant that Pascoe has been unable to see or use any material seized in the raid.
Items also seized in the raid concern Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington. On May 16, Quinn – the son of Richard Quinn – was indicted for taking $4.5 million from professional associations and trade groups and failing to report the income. Quinn, 52, made money from multiple organizations that contracted with his private businesses and then voted on legislation and lobbied other lawmakers on their behalf, Pascoe has alleged.
Quinn has denied wrongdoing.