In his first sit-down interview since indictment, ex-lawmaker Rick Quinn makes a new promise

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Rick Quinn's legal battle is probably over, but his battle outside the courtroom is just beginning.

The former Republican state representative from Lexington will have to rebuild his reputation and his business, a print shop on Gervais Street.

"You know, it's been damaged by this process, but I'm going to rebuild it," he said of the business that's lost about 50 percent of its customers over the past year.

On Tuesday, Quinn joined WIS for his first sit-down interview since he was indicted last May; pleaded guilty to misconduct in office in December; and was sentenced to two years of probation, a $1,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service on Monday after a quick hearing in Beaufort.

The one-on-one interview happened at the same business SLED raided in the State House corruption investigation that tried to send Quinn to prison. It was a probe that painted Quinn as a corrupt political kingmaker who used his influence to personally profit.

"There were eleven agents in this room – in my offices – for four hours, and they have yet to be able to find anything – communication from me that I was paid for my vote or that I was corrupt," Quinn said.

However, they did find one thing, and it had to do with the now-empty office space next door.

"It's really three offices. That middle office – for about eight months – was rented by the University of South Carolina social work," Quinn said. "Look, I'm going to take accountability. I made a mistake. I should have reported the name of someone who leased space from my father. I should have done that. I didn't do that."

That failure to report a beneficial transaction with a lobbyist was enough to slap Quinn with a misconduct in office. Quinn - and others - have minimized the crime is a simple, non-nefarious mistake.

"It's a crime," Quinn said when asked directly. "Yeah. It's a crime to speed. It's a crime to, you know – it's defined as a crime."

But now, Republican Quinn's attention is also focused on the Democrat who tried to take him down:  Solicitor David Pascoe.

On Tuesday, a source familiar with the proceedings said Pascoe's case again Quinn was a "prosecutorial gamble that failed spectacularly." Quinn agrees and said Pascoe's credibility is gone.

Republican strategist Dave Wilson won't go that far, but he pointed out that Pascoe didn't have a strong hand of cards against Quinn or other lawmakers he's targeted.

"At this point in time, we've not seen anything of a 'big fish,' so to speak, that has come out of this," Wilson said. "Pascoe really has one more card to play, and that's going to be what happens in the Courson trial."

Senator John Courson (R-Richland) is also accused of State House corruption. His trial is set for March. Quinn said, after talking to Courson, the senator is "very happy" to prove his innocence in court next month and is encouraged by Monday's proceedings involving Quinn.

Watchdog John Crangle chuckles at that. He thinks Pascoe's credibility is still strongly intact and that Courson will resign and take a quick guilty plea in just a matter of time - instead of risking the unknown of a trial.

"I'll bet him lunch at Ruth's Chris that Courson doesn't go to trial," he said. "I think that, quite frankly, the people of South Carolina owe a debt of gratitude to David Pascoe for the work he's done."

Meanwhile, back at his copy shop on Gervais Street, Quinn is planning his next project – a new promise of transparency. In the coming weeks, he plans to upload numerous documents to his website in hopes of proving to his constituents - and his children - that he wasn't the corrupt politician Solicitor Pascoe portrayed him to be.

"I think the greatest motivation for me is probably my kids. I was very proud of my service, and it got torn down by a liar," Quinn said.

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