The way we’ve seen it over the past 24 hours, it seems that many people thought that former state Rep. Rick Quinn (R-Lexington) should have spent at least some time in jail after he became the focus of a years-long corruption dragnet in Columbia, charged with using his Statehouse position to pocket some $4 million.
But during a 10 minute hearing in a Beaufort courtroom yesterday, Judge Carmen Mullen quickly dispensed with the case that at one time looked like it might be the ‘big fish’ state investigators craved. A plea deal late last year dropped charges against Rick’s father Richard, whose client list as the leader of various Columbia consulting firms could double as a roll call of top political insiders from Gov. Henry McMaster to College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham. It was presumed the package deal, which also cut some corruption charges against son Rick, would give prosecutors more information and leverage to continue investigating the machinations behind the daily business of the people in the capitol.
“There’s been no one more corrupt than Rick Quinn,” special prosecutor David Pascoe said in the plea hearing in December. The narrow scope of that deal seems to have been the case’s undoing, triggering a sequence of events that some are now laying at Pascoe’s feet.
At the end of the day, the state government’s ‘most corrupt man,’ was hit with just two years of probation and ordered to do 500 hours of community service.
Here’s some of the reaction we’ve seen:
- Transparency advocate John Crangle to Free Times: “What is two years probation? It isn’t shit, man. It doesn’t mean anything.”
- Crangle tells P&C that if Pascoe “isn’t able to produce any more criminal defendants, then it looks to me like he cut a bad deal.”
- Former USC Law ethics professor John Freeman to P&C: “This slap is near the wrist but not even on it.”
- S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor (R-Aiken) tells P&C that Quinn “should’ve done jail time.”
- S.C. Rep. Gary Clary (R-Pickens) tweeted that the case “merely emboldens those who want to take advantage of the system.”
It is obvious misconduct in office violations continue unpunished in South Carolina. This merely emboldens those who want to take advantage of the system to introduce bills and allow themselves or family members to profit through consulting &/or lobbying. No fear of punishment. https://t.co/wjMANJiXlQ
— Rep. Gary Clary (@garyclarysc) February 12, 2018
During the hearing, Judge Mullen punctuated the sentencing saying, “Mr. Quinn has no criminal record … His political career is over. He’s been disgraced and his family’s name has been destroyed.”
Afterward, with the charges behind him, a “jubilant” Quinn maintained his innocence, saying Pascoe couldn’t prove the superlative allegations against him in court, calling the investigation “political assassination.”
Quinn says he won’t run for office again, but his plea deal doesn’t prevent him from doing so.