SC judge considers Harrell's investigation request

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - A judge in Columbia is considering a request from House Speaker Bobby Harrell to remove South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson from an investigation of a complaint against the speaker.

      Circuit Judge Casey Manning said Friday the request should be considered in open court.

      "All Bobby Harrell hasever wanted was an open and transparent hearing and a process started, ofcourse, with the SLED report," said Harrell's attorney Bart Daniel.

      The State Grand Jury is considering the South Carolina Policy Council's allegations that Harrell used his office to boost his finances and appointed his brother to a judicial screening committee.

      Harrell has denied any wrongdoing.

      For the first time inseveral months, the Attorney General and Speaker of the House were in the sameroom together. This time it was a courtroom in front of the media. At issue is whether Alan Wilson should be removed from the case involving{}a grand jury probe into allegations against Harrell.

      Harrell's chief of staff testified that Wilson basically threatened the speaker during a meeting last year if he refused to support legislation dealing with a public integrity unit.

      "At one point inthe meeting he told me he had friends with deep pockets and he would make thisan issue if he had to," said Brad Wright.

      Wilson also testified, saying he made no threats and was only trying to get the bill passed.

      "I wanted to avoid apublic appearance of impropriety. For me to be seen at a social gatheringor a meeting room with someone who is currently under investigation would havelooked bad," Wilson said.

      Matters are presented to the Grand Jury in secret.

      But Manning agreed to an open hearing on whether the attorney general should be removed at the request of media attorney Jay Bender.

      Bender said the case should be open so the public knows the case is being handled appropriately.

      At this point thereno idea when that SLED report will be released. Judge Manning says hehopes to make a decision about this case by next Wednesday.


      Meg Kinnard reported from Columbia. Kinnard can be reached at

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