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Fall trial set for ex-SC lawmaker charged in corruption case

COLUMBIA (AP) The former chairman of one of South Carolina’s most powerful legislative committees is set to go on trial later this year on charges that are part of a wide-ranging, ongoing probe into Statehouse corruption.

A judge on Aug. 15 set a trial date of October 22 for former House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Harrison on two counts of misconduct in office and criminal conspiracy, according to news outlets.

Harrison left office after choosing not to see re-election in 2012. Prosecutors have said that the Columbia Republican failed to reveal in financial disclosure statements that he was paid $900,000 over 12 years by working for consultant Richard Quinn.

Quinn himself was charged in the years-long probe, which has led to guilty pleas from four state lawmakers including former House Speaker Bobby Harrell and former House Majority Leader Jim Merrill. Corruption charges against the longtime consultant who has advised many of the state’s Republican officeholders were dropped late last year in exchange for Quinn’s promise to cooperate with investigators, as well as the guilty plea of his son, now-former state Rep. Rick Quinn Jr., to misdemeanor misconduct in office.

Harrison and fellow former state Rep. Tracy Edge of Myrtle Beach are the only remaining lawmakers charged in the Statehouse probe whose cases remain in court. Earlier this year, Sen. John Courson of Columbia pleaded guilty to misconduct in office and resigned on the same day his trial was supposed to start.

All of the lawmakers charged have been Republicans, but Democratic Solicitor David Pascoe has said his investigation isn’t politically motivated and that he’s only going where the evidence has led him.

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