Columbia (WLTX) - State Senator John Courson has been suspended from office following his indictment on ethics charges.
Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant wrote a letter to Courson Friday afternoon explaining the decision, and citing state code which allows him to take the action.
"I regret these unfortunate events and pray that those matters are resolved in a timely manner," Bryant wrote.
The suspension is in effect until the matter is resolved in court.
The formal indictments were officially announced Friday. News19 learned of them the night before.
The charges are misconduct in office and a conversion of campaign funds for personal use. Courson is accused of laundering campaign money through communications firm, Richard Quinn and Associates.
In the documents, prosecutors say the incidents happened between the end of 2006 and the end of 2012. The indictment says Courson passed $247,000 from his campaign account to Quinn and Associates. That organization then paid approximately $132,800 back to Courson through multiple transactions.
Courson denies the charges.
"These allegations are completely false," he said in a statement. "I have done nothing wrong. I value my integrity and have spent all of my years as a public servant embracing the highest standard of ethical conduct. I believe the most important things one leaves behind in this life are ones children and ones reputation. While it is unfortunate to be charged by a partisan democrat under questionable motives and authority, I have no doubt that I will be cleared and exonerated of theses accusations."
His attorney, Rose Mary Parham, referred to the charges as a "political partisan witch hunt."
"John Courson is one of the most honorable men I have ever known," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.
McMaster has worked with Richard Quinn and Associates, and Friday his office said that partnership would continue.
State Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore issued the following statement:
"I've long known and respected Senator Courson, who has a good reputation for constituent service and problem solving," Moore wrote. "These allegations are as surprising as they are serious. While I hope the allegations are not true, I trust the judicial system to deal with them in a fair and timely fashion."
The 72-year-old Courson has served in the Senate since 1985. He represents part of Richland County.
He now becomes the second state lawmaker indicted by special prosecutor David Pascoe in his ongoing probe on possible corruption at the State House.
Representative Jim Merril was indicted in December.
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