South Carolina legislative leaders appear to be zeroing in on one of their former colleagues as the top candidate to replace outgoing state comptroller Richard Eckstrom.
Eckstrom announced his impending resignation yesterday in a letter to governor Henry McMaster. He is stepping down on April 30, 2023 to “give members of the General Assembly time to begin a process to elect my replacement.”
That process may not take very long …
According to my sources, leaders in the S.C.General Assembly appear to be gravitating toward former state representative Kirkman Finlay III as their top choice to replace Eckstrom.
Finlay – a farmer and businessman from Richland County – spent a decade in the House of Representatives. Prior to that, he spent four years as a city of Columbia, S.C. council member. Known for his brusque demeanor and willingness to ask blunt questions, Finlay has been described by some State House insiders as an “acquired taste.”
“He has master’s degree in asshole,” one GOP operative said.
What Finlay may lack in retail political skill, though, he more than makes up for in business acumen. And frankly, that’s just what the doctor ordered for this office – whose outgoing occupant announced his resignation a little over a month after copping to a $3.5 billion “anomaly” in the state’s general fund budget.
“We discovered there were some differences in the way the state was accounting for cash that was transferred over to colleges and universities,” Eckstrom told a Senate panel in early February.
Shortly thereafter, S.C. Senate finance committee chairman Harvey Peeler authorized an investigation into Eckstrom – and last week lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation to begin the process of removing him from office saying he “willfully neglected his duties.”
Support for Finlay as a replacement is already bubbling up on social media – including a Facebook post from GOP political operative Christopher Slick.
“I say we all consider encouraging our legislators to back Republican, fiscally conservative representative Kirkman Finlay – a wealthy and successful businessman – for the interim job,” Slick wrote. “I don’t have Kirkman‘s permission to post this, I don’t even know if he’s interested in the job, but he would right the ship, clean house, and get our state finances back in order right quick.”
Slick’s post drew a host of favorable comments – including multiple endorsements from sitting state lawmakers.
(Click to view)
“Kirkman wouldn’t put up with the financial mistakes,” S.C. speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope wrote in one such comment.
Pope and I have had our disagreements in recent months, but we are simpatico when it comes to his assessment of Finlay’s nonexistent tolerance of fiscal chicanery.
I reached out to Finlay on Friday morning to gauge his interest in the position.
“If approached, I am always willing to help South Carolina,” he told me.
Finlay declined to elaborate on his statement, or discuss any conversations he has had with legislative leaders about the position.
Whomever the General Assembly elects to take Eckstrom’s place will serve out the remainder of his unexpired term – which runs through January 2027. Looking longer-term, lawmakers could move to make this office an appointed position – but such a change would require an amendment to the state constitution.
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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The Republican Party is completely unserious.
Kirkman has no accounting degree.
Does not have a reputation for hard work.
Is not a conservative.
But can quadruple his retirement!
How many hamburgers can $3.5 billion buy anyways? I swear I’ll pay you Tuesday!
Why not elect Haley? She says its a great day in SC and knows the value of a dollar.
And this is what they do, set themselves, their buddies and former legislators up in another govt cushy job. Mike Pitts former legislator turned magistrate, Rita Allison appointed by old Foghorn to the eductaion board for the state. Pretty sure there are many many more. These are some of the most recent. Stay corrupt SC legislators…..
Right, you are!
Finlay’s accountant would be much more qualified for the job.
Appoint a CPA or Finance-qualified individual, not a politician.
Good to know the GA took the time to recruit the most qualified person to take on this job. We can always count on them to take care of each other. No doubt Finlay is a good businessman but this job requires an accountant. Finlay has no experience in the world of governmental accounting. Education and experience are irrelevant in the world of state government.
If appointed, Finlay will serve out Eckstrom’s term and easily win the next election as long as he runs as a Republican.
Finlay was a disappointment as a Legislator. I guess he was a “Richland County conservative”, given his vote against Permitless Carry a while back. If you have to give your ex-fellow Legislator a cookie on the taxpayer dime, this is probably a position where he will do the least amount of harm and may actually be an improvement over Eckstrom.