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Former SC House Speaker Gets $113,000 Fine

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Former South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell was hit with a fine Tuesday stemming from his misuse of campaign funds. Harrell pleaded guilty to related charges in 2014.

In a unanimous vote, the South Carolina House Ethics Committee ordered Harrell to pay nearly $113,000 to the state for improperly using campaign donations to cover attorney’s fees when Harrell was being investigated by the committee. He has 180 days to pay up. According to his attorney, Mark Peper, there’s no question that the payments were inadmissible under the state’s law. But Peper thinks the fine is too high. 

“Admittedly he made mistakes but I did want the committee to understand that any absurd amount of money you order my client to pay back you’re setting him up for failure again, so I don’t know where we go from here,” Peper said.

An appeal is not an option. Peper says Harrell gave up that right in negotiations last year in order to get the case settled so he could go on with his life. When Harrell pleaded guilty to misusing the campaign funds and resigned from office, he also gave up the right to run for office for three years. In lieu of a six-year jail term, he was placed on probation for three years. Peper says he has 21 months left on that sentence and is currently re-establishing his insurance business in Charleston.