Columbia, SC (WLTX) - South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Attorney General Alan Wilson want state supreme court justices to decide who should investigate a complaint that says the house speaker violated ethics law.
The question was in front of the court Tuesday after a previous ruling in the Circuit Court said the case belonged in the House Ethics Committee and halted any further investigation.
"What we just witnessed in there was the court said Judge Manning had access to all of this information including the SLED report and made the determination that without a doubt there wasn't anything criminal that he had seen," Harrell said after the hearing.
Harrell and his attorneys believe the case belongs in the House Ethics Committee.
Justices now have the case and will publish their opinion on the matter in the coming weeks.
"The issue today is if the Attorney General ,who is the constitutional officer with constitutional power to prosecute crime, and the state grand jury, which is the statutorily authorized body to investigated public corruption, need permission from the house ethics committee before they do their job," said Creighton Waters, Assistant Deputy Attorney General.
The Attorney General's office believes the state's top prosecutor should be able to investigate any crime, even if the a person associated with the allegation is also a lawmaker.
Harrell's lawyers say the AG's office never provided any evidence to support wrongdoing during the Circuit Court hearings.
The AG's office says they don't have too. They further argue it's the function of the State Grand Jury itself to investigate and find indicators of wrongdoing.
"The courts are generally reluctant, and I don't mean to state that they can't, but are generally reluctant to interfere or engage in too much oversight for what's going on in the Grand Jury," Waters said during his presentation. "The reason for that is if and only if an indictment issues from that grand jury that is the appropriate time the proceedings for the grand jury can be viewed."