- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Attorney General Alan Wilson has called on South Carolina’s highest court to dismiss a lawsuit from a fired local prosecutor he previously had appointed to head up an investigation into legislative corruption.

In a filing with the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Wilson asked justices to throw out a legal challenge from Solicitor David Pascoe, who is asking the court to allow him to open a state grand jury investigation into redacted materials. Pascoe tried to open such an investigation last month, prompting Wilson to dismiss him from his duties as special prosecutor.

The two prosecutors have been feuding for weeks over an ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption within South Carolina’s Legislature. Citing a conflict, Wilson turned the investigation of former House Speaker Bobby Harrell over to Pascoe in 2014, and Harrell ultimately pleaded guilty, agreeing to cooperate in subsequent investigations.

The probe has been ongoing, but no one else has been charged. Amid leaks to the news media, Wilson abruptly fired Pascoe last month, saying he didn’t have the authority to open the grand jury probe.

At a news conference following the firing, Wilson said Pascoe hadn’t been among his first five choices for the assignment.

Wilson’s new filing reiterates some previous arguments, saying Pascoe can’t challenge the chief of the state grand jury in court and that the attorney general recused himself, not his entire office, from the probe. He also includes a six-page chronology of his office’s interaction with Pascoe, pointing out the prosecutor sought legal advice no less than nine times, yet now says the Attorney General’s Office “can play no supporting role” in his ongoing case.

“This is a case that should not have been brought, as it is procedurally and substantively defective,” Wilson wrote, saying Pascoe’s litigation “attempts to circumvent the constitutional role of the Attorney General and his office to supervise the Solicitors and, if need be, to remove a Solicitor from an assignment.”

Pascoe, who has continued to maintain that he had the necessary authority and won’t step down without a court’s intervention, has not filed a response to Wilson’s request. The state Supreme Court is considering the prosecutors’ dispute and hasn’t said when it will rule.

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Kinnard can be reached at https://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/

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