- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A new special prosecutor has been appointed to take over the investigation of corruption within South Carolina’s Legislature, a day after the previous chief attorney on the case was fired.

“You have full authority to review the matter and this office will fully support whatever decision you deem appropriate,” Chief Deputy Attorney General John McIntosh wrote to Solicitor Dan Johnson, the chief prosecutor for Richland and Kershaw counties, in a letter obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. “Our concern is not about the result of the investigation, but the integrity of the process and adherence to the rule of law.”

On Monday, McIntosh removed Solicitor David Pascoe from the case, saying he was “deeply troubled” the prosecutor had tried to open a state grand jury probe into a redacted portion of a state police report without proper authority. Pascoe responded in a letter of his own, saying he wouldn’t step down without a court’s intervention.

Attorney General Alan Wilson had designated Pascoe to head up the prosecution against former House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who ultimately pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor campaign spending violations and resigned. Prosecutors have said the probe is ongoing, but no lawmakers have been charged.

State grand jury matters are conducted in secret, and filings associated with them are not publicly available. But Monday, The State newspaper cited documents filed with the state Supreme Court in which Pascoe said he wanted to utilize the state grand jury but was being obstructed by Wilson.

In his Monday letter, McIntosh referenced the story, saying Pascoe “sued the clerk of the state grand jury” to get his way in proceeding with his own investigation. In a statement provided to the AP, Wilson said that “multiple media leaks,” combined with “an obvious abuse of power” led him to fire Pascoe.

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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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The summary of this story has been corrected to show that the letter was obtained Tuesday, not Monday.

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