- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Former House Speaker Bobby Harrell says he’ll decide in the coming weeks whether to pay nearly $113,500 the House Ethics Committee ordered him to hand over.

The Charleston Republican said he’s still considering his options.

“We’re looking at it and determining how we should proceed,” Harrell told The Post and Courier of Charleston (http://bit.ly/1RiEoZc ).

Harrell missed a midnight Thursday deadline that his former colleagues imposed on him in a Sept. 1 letter.

The committee decided Harrell improperly paid his attorneys last year with campaign money, so Harrell must pay an equal amount of $113,475 to state coffers. Ordinarily, the committee would require offenders to reimburse their campaign fund, but Harrell had to empty his account as part of his plea deal last October.

The once-powerful politician also had to resign the seat he’d held for more than 20 years after pleading guilty to improperly using campaign money to pay for flights on his private plane.

Committee Chairman Kenny Bingham, R-Cayce, said using campaign donations for legal defense would have been permitted if Harrell had been cleared.

If Harrell doesn’t pay, the committee will discuss its next step at an upcoming meeting. Possibilities include pursuing the debt through legal avenues.

The committee’s decision does not affect Harrell’s probation.

___

Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com

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