State Judge Knox McMahon will announce on Friday whether a special prosecutor investigating public corruption in the S.C. General Assembly can use as evidence documents seized during a March law enforcement raid on the Columbia offices of Richard Quinn & Associates.
McMahon has scheduled a 9:30 a.m. Friday hearing at the Richland County courthouse to announce his decision, sources familiar with the case but not authorized to speak publicly told The State newspaper. He also is expected to rule on a motion to disqualify Pascoe from prosecuting the case.
State Grand Jury clerk Jim Parks late Wednesday confirmed the hearing but said he could not comment on its subject.
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 level.
The agents raided Quinn’s offices on a directive from special prosecutor David 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 since last December.
That day, agents seized from Quinn’s firm a mother lode 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 he 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, and 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 made money from multiple organizations that contracted with his private businesses, and then he voted on legislation and lobbied other lawmakers on their behalf, Pascoe has alleged.
Quinn has denied wrongdoing.