COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Richland County Grand Jury indicted James H. Merrill, former Majority Leader and current member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, on 30 charges.
First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe made the announcement on Wednesday, December 14.
The 30 indictments are for two counts of misconduct in office and 28 counts for violations of the Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act of 1991.
“At this point in the process, the indictments are mere accusations,” Solicitor Pascoe said. Mr. Merrill is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
A bond hearing date has not been set yet.
Attorneys for Representative Jim Merrill released the following statement:
Representative Jim Merrill adamantly denies the charges brought against him by Solicitor David Pascoe. He has served honorably and in good faith as a part time member of the General Assembly. For over 20 years, his vocation and livelihood has been in the field of advertising, direct mail, and public relations.
Contrary to the flawed allegations made today, the work performed by Jim Merrill’s private company was completely legal and legitimate. Solicitor Pascoe has charged Representative Merrill for conduct that is not illegal under South Carolina law. In fact, the charges include conduct that has been declared legal in written opinions by the South Carolina Attorney General, the bi-partisan House Ethics Committee, and the State Ethics Commission.
Representative Merrill acted in good faith and looks forward to defending himself in court.
House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement:
I have received criminal indictments against Representative Jimmy Merrill (District 99-Berkeley) and have suspended him from the South Carolina House of Representatives effective immediately. This suspension is in pursuant to state law and will remain in place until the matter is resolved or the seat is declared vacant.