Powerful South Carolina Senate finance committee chairman Harvey Peeler has tapped one of the senior members of his panel with conducting an investigation into the office of state comptroller general Richard Eckstrom.
The root of the probe? A $3.5 billion anomaly in the state’s general fund – which Eckstrom first reported to lawmakers earlier this month. According to Eckstrom, this “anomaly” was uncovered when his office began “dissecting information that hit the (state’s) accounting system” prior to submitting a recent annual report.
According to the 74-year-old state accountant – who is independently elected every four years – the discrepancy occurred in reconciling payments made to the state’s sprawling network of government-funded colleges and universities.
“We discovered there were some differences in the way the state was accounting for cash that was transferred over to colleges and universities,” Eckstrom said.
Lawmakers are furious at Eckstrom, accusing him of “grossly underestimating” the state’s cash reserves. As a result, Peeler has assigned state senator Larry Grooms to dig into the issue – and has assigned two attorneys and a staff member to support his investigation.
“His job is to watch the damn money,” a source familiar with the investigation told me, referring to Eckstrom. “He isn’t doing sh*t.”
Eckstrom is guilty of both “incompetence and laziness,” the source continued, adding that if such a mistake had occurred in the private sector Eckstrom would have “lost his license.”
“What else has he missed?” the source asked. “This is a huge error and calls into question the state’s finances.”
As I noted in my previous coverage, so-called “Republican” lawmakers have been spending hand over fist ever since they took control of state government in 2003 – a massive investment in government that has not paid dividends.
Eckstrom was elected in 2022 to a sixth term as comptroller. He ran unopposed in both the primary and general election cycles.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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