Attorney general forwards complaint against House Speaker Harrell to SLED

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COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s attorney general forwarded a complaint against House Speaker Bobby Harrell to state law enforcement Thursday.


Attorney General Alan Wilson had received a complaint from the president of the South Carolina Policy Council alleging Harrell violated state ethics laws.

“We are requesting that SLED assign an agent to conduct this inquiry,” Wilson wrote in his letter to State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel.

Harrell called the complaint a baseless attack driven by a “personal and political vendetta.” Ashley Landess, the director of the limited-government group, has said her longtime criticism isn’t personal.

Landess’ complaint alleges that Harrell used his office to boost his finances by using undue influence to get a permit for his pharmaceutical business. Last month, Landess released e-mails dating to 2006 purportedly written by a Board of Pharmacy member concerned about Harrell’s application. Harrell last month called that ridiculous, saying that one e-mail specifies that he insisted on no special treatment.

The Policy Council also takes issue with Harrell’s appointing his brother to a committee that screens judicial candidates and picks the top three for each seat.

Other allegations stem from a Post and Courier report in September that raised accusations that Harrell couldn’t account for money withdrawn from his campaign and had used his campaign account for personal expenses.

Harrell said the House Ethics Committee was the appropriate place to file a complaint. Landess’ complaint said there would be conflicts of interest over the House investigating its top officer.

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