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      AG sends Harrell ethics case to State Grand Jury

      By MEG KINNARDAssociated Press

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's chief prosecutor has handed over his review of a state police report on ethics allegations against Speaker Bobby Harrell to the State Grand Jury.

      Attorney General Alan Wilson made that announcement on Monday. A month ago, Wilson's office received what it called a "voluminous" report from the State Law Enforcement Division.

      Harrell said in a statement that Wilson's decision to release to the press his decision before contacting the speaker's office was "a disappointment."

      "This decision contradicts every indication that SLEDand the Attorney General's Office have given us on the progress of thisinvestigation.{} I have cooperated fully and voluntarily with thisinvestigation, provided access to everything they requested and met withinvestigators for several interviews," Harrell said. "At every stage of this investigation it was reiteratedto us that investigators have found no areas of concern. Given every indicationwe have received from SLED and the Attorney General, I am disappointed andshocked by this sudden change of course."

      At Wilson's request, state police began looking at the case after South Carolina Policy Council President Ashley Landess alleged the Charleston Republican used his office to boost his finances by using influence to get a permit for his pharmaceutical business.

      The libertarian think tank also took issue with Harrell appointing his brother to a committee that screens judicial candidates.

      "This has drawn on for far too long and been done behind closed doors.{} I call on the Attorney General to immediately release the entire SLED report to the public.{} This report contains the facts of this matter, facts that have been kept from the public and even kept from my attorneys and me," Harrell said.

      {}

      Seanna Adcox contributed to this report. Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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