Charleston area conservative Jim Merrill officially indicted on thirty charges after receiving $802,000 in kickbacks – showing once again that S.C. is the most politically corrupt state in the nation
Columbia — Another conservative will be facing the music soon.
This time, it is Jim Merrill (R-Daniel Island).
In his first court appearance today, Merrill, who lead Donald Trump’s campaign to a hollow victory both in South Carolina and nationally, was officially indicted on charges that he violated the state’s ethics law and for misconduct in office.
Those charges are among the thirty against him.
According to the Charleston City Paper, Merrill is accused of using his office and position as a member of the state House to obtain “a personal profit and benefit to himself.” The misconduct charges span a period of 15.5 years and are believed to have happened between January 2002 and July. All of the charges made against Merrill, except for two, stem from the Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act of 1991.
The charges claim that Merrill accepted nearly $802,000.00 from various entities during the aforementioned period. Of that, $573,000.00 came from the South Carolina Association of Realtors and Student Transportation for America Incorporated to influence, sponsor or introduce specific bills. Of that, $400,000 came from the association and more than $172,000 came from the transportation group. Merrill is also charged with failing to report that his business, Geechie Communications, allegedly accepted funds from the Association of Realtors.
Also, the indictment notes that Merrill laundered nearly $150,000 from the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to his business through his brother’s company, while serving as a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Geechie Communications is also believed to have received $35,000 from Infilaw Management Solutions, while Geechie was attempting to purchase the College of Charleston School of Law in 2014. Merrill later became chairman of the Higher Education sub-committee after receiving the money and is accused of using his position to influence government decisions involving the purchase. The indictment also asserts that Merrill accepted $43,000 from Thomas and Hutton Engineering Company.
First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, who has led an ongoing probe into alleged ethics violations among state leaders, pointed out in a news release that the investigation is still underway.
“At this point in the process, the indictments are mere accusations. Mr. Merrill is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said Mr. Pascoe.
House Speaker Jay Lucas suspended Merrill indefinitely from all activities in the state House of Representatives effective of the indictment’s announcement (December 14), announcing, “This suspension is in pursuant to state law and will remain in place until the matter is resolved or the seat is declared vacant.”
Bond was set at a cheap $146,000.00 today for Merrill.