- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on South Carolina’s former majority leader being indicted (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

Attorneys for a former state House majority leader says he adamantly denies charges that he used his position for personal benefit.

The attorneys for GOP Rep. Jim Merrill of Charleston say his company’s work was “completely legal and legitimate.”

Solicitor David Pascoe announced Wednesday that a Richland County grand jury indicted Merrill on two counts of misconduct in office and 28 counts of violating state ethics laws.

The charges involve Merrill’s former leadership role and his public relations company, Geechie Communications. He is accused of lobbying for companies as a legislator, not reporting income from them on campaign disclosures, and charging the caucus above market value for work his company performed for GOP candidates. Merrill was majority leader from 2004 to 2008.

The indictments come two years after former House Speaker Bobby Harrell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor ethics violations and resigned from office. The deal also required him to cooperate with ongoing Statehouse investigations.

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4 p.m.

A prosecutor says former state House Majority Leader Jim Merrill is accused of using his position for personal benefit.

Prosecutor David Pascoe announced Wednesday a Richland County grand jury indicted Merrill on two counts of misconduct in office and 28 counts of violating state ethics laws.

Merrill’s attorneys didn’t immediately return messages.

The charges involve Merrill’s leadership role and his public relations company, Geechie Communications. He is accused of lobbying for companies as a legislator, not reporting income from them on campaign disclosures, and charging the caucus above market value for work his company performed for GOP candidates.

The indictments come two years after former House Speaker Bobby Harrell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor ethics violations and resigned from office. The deal also required him to cooperate with ongoing Statehouse investigations.

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