BRIEF: Shock and awe

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Staff reports  |  Members of the state legislature are still in shock over allegations that state Sen. John Courson (R-Columbia) has been indicted on ethics charges.

Last week, the 32-year veteran of the state Senate was suspended from office after charges that he converted more than $130,000 in campaign contributions for personal use.

In doing so, he became the second legislator suspended within the last four months, with former House Majority Leader Jim Merrill (R-Daniel Island) having been indicted on 30 different charges, including accepting donations with legislation at stake.

Courson

Both legislators have denied wrongdoing. Both legislators are snared in an ongoing corruption probe led by state 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, a Democrat. Pascoe’s investigations resulted a few years ago with the removal from office of then-Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston).

Courson, who had been Senate president pro tempore at one time, is a longtime Senate leader, also serving for years as chair of the Education Committee.

Senate colleagues and staff, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were in shock that a man universally respected would be in this situation.

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