S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom’s appointee to the state’s pension fund investment panel is no reformer …
In fact, Eckstrom’s pick to serve on the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission (SCRSIC) recently joined Gov. Nikki Haley’s appointee in approving a controversial $80,000 payoff to the fund’s corrupt former director.
But is Eckstrom more personally and more directly involved in the status quo intriguing that’s associated with this fund? More specifically, has he conspired with Haley in her ongoing war with State Treasurer Curtis Loftis?
Yes … and yes.
Our source in the governor’s office is confirming reports that Eckstrom “actively participated” in a recent effort to smear Loftis in the press – and to have him removed from his oversight role on the SCRSIC.
According to our gubernatorial source, Eckstrom has been working closely with Haley deputy chief of staff Ted Pitts for months in an effort to marginalize Loftis and weaken him politically. Those efforts range from petty political games (i.e. shutting Loftis out of a public forum that Haley held with rating agency leaders last year) to much more serious assaults (i.e. leaking false or misleading information about Loftis to members of the media).
Has this assault worked?
Not really … Loftis has gotten some bad press in one newspaper, but in most circles he’s regarded as a taxpayer hero. Also, the S.C. Senate voted overwhelmingly this week to keep him on the state’s investment panel – choosing to ignore the “pay-to-play” allegations leveled against him.
Eckstrom has made no secret of his allegiance to Haley – and sources close to the Comptroller say that his support for the current governor is consistent with his prior support of former Gov. Mark Sanford.
But while Eckstrom cast many commendable (and losing) votes on the S.C. Budget and Control Board during the eight years that Sanford was governor, in this case he is actively conspiring to cut a real reformer off at the knees.
This website has aggressively defended Loftis on the pension fund issue. Why? Because he has been the only elected official in the state who has consistently advanced the specific policy changes that we believe are required to reduce this fund’s liabilities and enhance its return.
Removing him from this panel would have been removing the only voice for reform.
Numerous politicos have called us throughout this debate, urging us not to “trust Curtis” or “get too close to the Treasurer” or “put all (our) eggs in Loftis’ basket.”
For us, this isn’t about Loftis, Haley, Eckstrom or any other politician – it’s about supporting policies that will put a dent in the $14-16 billion unfunded liability that the state’s pension fund is currently beset with, and championing smarter investments that will keep the state from losing nearly $2 billion over the next six months (like it has lost over the last six months).
It’s too bad Haley and Eckstrom don’t see the issue that way …
Haley, Eckstrom and Loftis all ran as fiscal conservatives … promising to uphold their fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers. It’s a shame only one of them seems to be taking that responsibility seriously.