CHARLESTON S.C. (Reuters) - Suspended South Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Bobby Harrell is expected to plead guilty to criminal ethics charges related to misuse of campaign money and misconduct in office, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Harrell, a Republican indicted on nine counts that include falsifying his private plane’s logbook to seek payment for non-existent travel, is scheduled to appear at a hearing on Thursday morning in Columbia, the prosecutor in the case said.
The Charleston Post and Courier, citing an anonymous source close to the investigation, said Harrell planned to enter a guilty plea. The paper added it was not clear whether the plea would involve all or some of the charges.
David Pascoe, the prosecutor, declined to comment further, and Reuters could not verify that Harrell planned to plead guilty.
Neither Harrell nor his attorney immediately responded to messages seeking comment.
Harrell, who suspended himself from the Legislature after his indictment last month, has called the case against him a “political vendetta” carried out by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a fellow Republican, who ordered the investigation and convened a grand jury before appointing Pascoe.
The state Supreme Court ruled in June that Wilson had the authority to investigate a citizen’s ethics complaint.
Harrell began serving as House speaker in 2005.
Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Peter Cooney