SC

Reynolds Williams: SC’s Swanky “Travel Scrooge”

HOW S.C. TAXPAYERS AND RETIREES ARE BEING SQUEEZED FOR EVERY PENNY BY A CORRUPT POLITICAL APPOINTEE This website has been harping on corruption at the S.C. Retirement Systems Investment Commission (SCRSIC) for several years now  … but it’s been awhile since we last peeled back this particular scab of a…

HOW S.C. TAXPAYERS AND RETIREES ARE BEING SQUEEZED FOR EVERY PENNY BY A CORRUPT POLITICAL APPOINTEE

This website has been harping on corruption at the S.C. Retirement Systems Investment Commission (SCRSIC) for several years now  … but it’s been awhile since we last peeled back this particular scab of a bureaucracy.

As part of our ongoing investigation, FITS recently asked for travel records and expense reports for Reynolds Williams, chairman of SCRIC, and others affiliated with the SCRSIC. We will get to the “others” in subsequent posts – for now let’s focus on Williams.

If this guy’s name sounds familiar, it should.  This is the same Reynolds Williams who is currently under criminal and ethics investigations for alleged self-dealing.  He’s also the leader of a corrupt cabal that tried (and failed) to torpedo S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis – the only person in state government who has shown any interest whatsoever in seeing South Carolina’s retirement fund managed efficiently and accountably.

Reynolds Williams

So how is it that a man of such low moral character – who is currently under multiple investigations for abusing his office – still in power? That’s easy: When a resolution was introduced demanding his resignation, Williams cast the deciding vote to preserve his seat on this commission, effectively acting as his own judge.

Anyway, the various investigations into Williams made us curious as to (a) the nature of his work with the SCRSIC, (b) exorbitant travel that is supposedly “work” related and also (c) the extent to which he is ripping off taxpayers and retirement plan participants with travel-related reimbursements.

We have received hundreds of pages of documentation in response to our recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, but for now we wanted to share with our readers one trip that stands out.  In April 2010, Williams went to London, England and Rotterdam, The Netherlands for what he referred to as “due diligence” research.

A classic “fact-finding” mission, if you will.

When traveling on the dime of taxpayers and retirement plan participants, Williams doesn’t skimp.  In fact on this particular trip he stayed at the Waldorf Hilton, a swanky $375-a-night West End luxury hotel referred to as “one of the capital’s most iconic hotels.”

According to its website, “the Waldorf Hilton London hotel showcases every imaginable 21st Century comfort against a backdrop of genuine historic splendour. Dine or take afternoon tea in the stylish Homage Grand Salon Restaurant or sip signature cocktails with friends and fellow guests in our new chic 1920’s themed bar and lounge Good Godfreys.”

In fact, here is a picture of one of the Walldorf’s swanky rooms …

Not bad for government work …

What’s most troubling about this jaunt, however, is that Williams milked taxpayers and retirees for every single dime he could squeeze out of the trip – all the way down to the ten miles that he drove to and from his house to the airport in Florence, S.C.

He also wasted little time racking up expenses.  According to documentation received from our FOIA requests, Reynolds expensed $83 worth of “meals” before he even touched down in London.

Anyone who flies international – or who remembers their trip (unlike Nikki Haley’s infamous jaunt to China in 2007) – knows that your meals are covered for the entire flight.  Why, then, would Williams bill the state for meals on this leg of the trip? Not only that, why would he charge $83 worth of “meals” in such a short amount of time?

Hmmmmm …

And if Williams didn’t spend that money on food, did he break the law?  Seriously, aren’t there regulations on the books that govern reimbursements for commission members?  And doesn’t S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom keep tabs on proper versus improper reimbursements?

Apparently not.  According to current law, any member of a state board or commission gets a flat per diem rate of $35 for out-of-state travel.  If they take that per diem, then by law they can only accept up to $32 per day for meals and subsistence.  In fact, the maximum amount allowed for meals for out-of-state travel is $32 a day.

This begs the question: How long have taxpayers and retirees been picking up expenses that the Comptroller General hasn’t been keeping proper tabs on?  We’ve looked long and hard, people, and we cannot find a single shred of statutory language that supports Williams’ right to bill anything above $35 for per diem and $32 each day for meals.  Yet on this particular trip, he exceeded that amount before he even stepped off of the airplane.

Richard Eckstrom

Under murky guidelines cited by Eckstrom’s office, Williams billed taxpayers and retirees the maximum amount allowable for meals under federal GSA guidelines during his trip to London: $139 a day.

Never one to miss a trick, he also reimbursed himself $154 for meals on the day he visited Rotterdam – again, the maximum amount allowable under federal guidelines. Despite these reimbursements, another document we uncovered would seem to indicate that Williams paid less than $150 at restaurants during his entire trip.

Wait …

If that’s accurate, then what was he really spending all of that reimbursement cash on?  Or was he just pocketing it?  For example Williams’ $375-a-night hotel room in London included breakfast – yet he still billed taxpayers and retirees for that meal.  If his breakfast was already paid for, where did that money go?

And if Williams’ pocketed money improperly while not paying for other meals – who was buying?

It’s a safe bet that during his so-called “due diligence” on this trip, Williams was wined and dined by the retirement system’s investment managers (considering he’s in charge of how $25 billion is invested).  Further highlighting how corrupt such deals are, it appears as though all reimbursements charged to the retirees’ fund are exempt from any state law – making this the equivalent of a free-for-all for commissioners.

(They pocket hundreds of dollars in free money from taxpayers while letting special interests pick up the tab for their meals). 

In our research we also discovered that there is no requirement to produce receipts when taxpayers and retirees are billed for things like taxi rides (documents show Williams’ billed $191.70 for taxis on this trip, yet he did not produce a single receipt).  It also appears as though he cleaned up on frequent flyer miles – another practice that the Comptroller General does not monitor.

In fact the only thing Williams’ paid for himself on this trip appears to be his hotel liquor tab.

Obviously when compared to a $25 billion fund we’re not talking about a lot of money here.  In fact Williams’ expenses pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of dollars S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has spent on her extensive international travel.

It’s the principle that matters, though.

Seriously … here is a guy who appears to have steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to his law firm after shepherding a particular investment deal through his commission – a guy who then lied about his firm’s connection to the deal when he was asked about it by his fellow commissioners, and who then saved his own skin by casting deciding vote against a resolution demanding his resignation over the scandal.

But Williams isn’t just using his power for personal gain, he’s also bleeding taxpayers dry in the process … down to the last penny.

Incidentally, Williams was appointed to this commission by S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman (RINO-Florence), who is no stranger to costly international travel himself.  In fact Leatherman reportedly called in several favors to make sure that Williams held onto his post, raising questions about whether he has his fingers in the retirement pie, too.

If he does, make no mistake … we’re gonna find out.  Because when it comes to this particular cesspool of state government, we’ve only just begun to dig.

***

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36 comments

Chapin Charlie November 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

This website should evaluate JOE WILSON’s extravagent travels all over the world. This guy says he is a fiscal conservative but he jets all over the place with his wife at the taxpayer’s expense. Recall he even purchased souvenirs at the taxpayers expense and only reimbursed the taxpayers when he was called out on it. This guy is absolutely PATHETIC.

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Mantra November 30, 2012 at 1:49 am

The mantra should be:
Joe must go
Joe must go
Joe must go
We know he is a dumbass
We know he has close ties with Metts
We know he has close ties to Knotts
We know he has close ties to Peeler
We know Roxanne is an embarraassment
We know Joe does not mean jobs
We know he begged Haley for and endorsement
We know he’s done nothing of value in Congress
We know Butch Wallace is an idiot too
We know he waited like a vulcher for Spence to die
And the things we don’t know should send him into his Gold plated retirement at tax payers expense.

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Clyde November 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm

it is an absolute sham that Reynolds Williams is in charge of 25 billion dollars while being under criminal investigation. The retirees should be raiding the state house and asking why. South Carolina is terrible terrible place to have only invested.

Governor Haley should remove him from office immediately.

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Cash November 30, 2012 at 7:41 am

There is no secret here. This Commission has been crooked for years.

Reynolds Williams is Senator Leatherman’s appointment and neither Allen Wilson or Nikki Haley or Bobby Harrell or anyone will touch him.

Just accept the fact the commission is crooked and move on.

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junior justice November 29, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Man-O-Man! This guy is good – he’s slicker than whale shit!

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jimlewis,owb November 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Normally I do not take up for animals but this time I find it necessary to speak up for all whales, dead and alive.

I am sure junior justice did not intend to impugn your shit by associating it with a piece of shit such as Reynolds Williams for without a doubt Reynolds Williams is a piece of shit and if the Gods are Just, Reynolds Williams will blow an artery while taking a shit and be found face down on the shit house floor with his $2000 trousers around his ankles and his smug face planted smack in the center of the floor drain.

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same ol' same ol' November 29, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Dude, London’s expensive, no matter where you stay. I ate breakfast at the Holiday Inn at Victoria Station in ’07, over $30US. It ain’t a whole lot better now.

I don’t know the guy, don’t really care about the situation, but if you travel internationally, even at a modest level, shit’s high.

I’d never stay at the Waldorf, of course, but at that level of management, I could see where they would think they are entitled. If you or anyone else were in that position, would you stay at the Crown Plaza? Probably not.

I do have issue with the China trip, though. It is absolutely bullshit that you can’t remember if you flew coach to China. That’s one you would never forget. I flew to Melbourne from LA 3x coach and believe me, I remember details from each and every harrowing adventure. Bullshit x10, shame on you Gov. You know better. Who did you charge for that?

I don’t condone extravagance, for sure but you have to think about what’s acceptable for the level of management/government, then apply the rules.

If the rules are HIE, so be it, unless demonstrable circumstances prevail. The only problem is, who calls the shots. If there’s no oversight, shit gets out of hand. Human nature.

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johnb November 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

Did you read the article ?

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Strickland November 29, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I walked by the Waldorf once… it looked very nice…

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Awaken America November 30, 2012 at 12:49 am

Another example of fleecing the taxpayer and the incompetence of Eckstrom.

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thedude November 30, 2012 at 4:48 am

If you have the goods on him Sic why not file a complaint with the Office of Inspector General?

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marty November 30, 2012 at 7:02 am

Manages or mis manages is the real question.

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Frank November 30, 2012 at 7:31 am

Our pension plan is still being run by a man under criminal investigation? Surely that can’t be true.

At a bank or similar organization he would be sidelined until this investigation was cleared. Surely no bank or investment house would allow someone under investigation to maintain control over 25 billion dollars.

Only in South Carolina.

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Party On November 30, 2012 at 7:32 am

What is the status of Reynold’s SLED investigation? No word on it in months so has he been cleared?

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Cash November 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

Well to do government officials that are white people with law degrees do not go to jail for white collar crimes in SC.

It is silly to think otherwise.

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Howdy Doody November 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm

If you are waiting on SLED, plan to live a very, very loooong time!

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Mohanna November 30, 2012 at 7:53 am

South Carolina is going to implode because of criminal activities.

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John November 30, 2012 at 8:05 am

Mohanna,
That is a false statement. Nothing will implode.
And no one will go to jail.
But taxes and pension contributions will go up, again, and again.
You will pay the bill for their criminal activity.
That is the Carolina way.
John

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Smirks November 30, 2012 at 8:13 am

Forget “Thank God for Mississippi,” pretty soon it’ll be “Thank God for Chicago.”

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Paul November 30, 2012 at 7:57 am

Reynolds Williams has made a fortune off the backs of the government workers of SC. The Trust Fund has bleed millions and millions of dollars by overpaying managers and doing business with insiders. Sucking every penny out of a trip to Europe is standard for greedy people.

There are many acceptable hotels in London there that cost less money. It is easy to spend less than he did for meals. I was in London last month and spent half that and had a great time.

Billing for the 10 miles to the airport tells you all you need to know. Greedy for every penny.Soaking the retires at every turn. Grabbing every dime.

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Johnson November 30, 2012 at 8:11 am

Of course, nothing has been heard of the investigation of Williams by Jean Toal’s corrupt Office of Disciplinary Counsel – her personal police force to punish her enemies and reward her friends. You won’t hear anything out of that farce unless the Feds do like they did in the EW Cromatie case and demand Williams’ law license be suspended as part of their indictment. The Feds could not count on Toal to do it knowing Cromatie was her friend. They will have to do the same with good ole time yellow dog Democrat Williams.

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Not From Florence November 30, 2012 at 9:46 am

Williams has been a Republican insider for all of the 40 years that I have known him, both personally and professionally.

His first political appointment was in 1973 as Legislative Assistant to former Congressman Ed Young, (Rep.) 6th District, SC.

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junior justice November 30, 2012 at 8:32 am

jimlewis @ 10.13 pm- I meant to say “slippier than whale shit”

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James November 30, 2012 at 8:32 am

I am saddened by my country. In DC and SC we are governed by people that treat us with contempt. There can be no honorable people left serving in government.

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johnb November 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

I agree with James

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junior justice November 30, 2012 at 8:45 am

Add, arrogant and incompetent to that list.

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junior justice November 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

Recently heard a rumor that Ireland, in an act of goodwill and support, and because his name is actually spelled O’bama, has provided him with a family geneology. Not confirmed yet – still a rumor.

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Howdy Doody November 30, 2012 at 1:47 pm

AMEN!!!

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Ben Willard November 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

So after sifting through hundreds of pages of FOIA acquired documents the most heinous crimes you could come up with were paying $375 for a hotel room and paying more than $32 per day for meals IN LONDON. Have you seen the prices in Charleston lately?

A quick check of the annual reports for the retirement systems of our neighboring states shows that South Carolina’s one, three and five year returns on investment are right in line so it looks like Mr. Williams performing his duties competently. I enjoy Sic’s salacious scuttlebutt as much as the next guy but it looks to me like William’s only sin was crossing one of the founding editor’s clients.

That being said, let’s keep the Alice Eve research on the front burner.

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Elliott November 30, 2012 at 10:17 am

Ben,
Bullshit.

Thier returns are suboptimal and there fee structures are outrageous…one of the highest in the country, if not the highest. Their peer performance is terrible.

I have been watching this group for years and until you pop up with bullshit like that I was content to stay out of this and just shake my head.

Somebody, and I don’t know who, is getting richer than hell on the backs of the Retirement fund. Nobody, and I mean nobody gives away money (overpaying fees) without getting something in return.

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Raspy November 30, 2012 at 10:25 am

The point is that this guy should not be working with our money while under investigation and this trip should not have been taken. People have worked some of the best years of their lives to have this retirement package and we are letting a bunch of weasels run around the chicken coop, playing when they like with what they like. This needs to stop.

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Principle November 30, 2012 at 9:41 am

DICK Eckstrom gives clarity to the old saying about a fox guarding the henhouse. What a sorry, sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in. It’s a great day in another place!

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Raspy November 30, 2012 at 10:26 am

Fits, Thank You for being one of the very few investigative news outlets that has the balls to dig this stuff up and let us know about it. A healthy dose of exposure is often the best medicine for this kind of ailment.

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Salty Doggerel November 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Why is the habit of crooks
To junket by first-class, en luxe?
Our fund’s down by the billions,
But sly Reynolds Williams,
Is he guilty of cooking the books?

Arcane, some would say, or quite funny,
To figure what he’s done with the money.
This calculating caliph,
In step with the bailiff,
Can hop around banks like a bunny.

FitsNews calls sly Reynolds a “Scrooge”.
That’s a hoot; he applies too much rouge.
He should make up instead
For a bunch of the red,
Invested through his subterfuge.

To “Dick” Eckstrom, it’s just birds and bees,
But to Reynolds it’s Byzantine “fees”.
Retirees to protect?
Is that voucher correct?
Let the taxpayers fall to their knees.

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mlynn November 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I wonder if federal funds are involved with any of this. It’s doubtful, but I really wish they were. Why? He would be put behind bars for significant CONFLICT OF INTEREST. I know — I used to handle some federal grant funds while employed with the State. I saw it happen!!
Apparently, South Carolina has no conflict of interest laws that are worth anything.

I also know this: a regular state employee would not be allowed to go overseas; would not be allowed to get something above the per diem amounts. This is SUCH a SHAM!!!

I am retired from the state now and learn just how our money is being wasted. It is SO disgusting and infuriating.

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hhuuhh?? November 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Why is he looking to make investments in foreign vulture capital companies when the SCRS has been so thoroughly ripped off by American vulture capital companies? Does he think he will understand them better with English and Dutch accents?

I voted NO to change the Constitutution to allow this kind of investment.

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