State House

South Carolina’s $1.8 Billion Surplus: More Misdirection

Give the money back, already!

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In case the last two months haven’t made it abundantly clear, South Carolina “Republican” lawmakers have absolutely zero intention of returning the $1.8 billion they recently “found” sitting in a pass-through account.

In other words, struggling Palmetto State taxpayers – already dealing with soaring inflation – are unlikely to receive rebates which could have totaled an average of $1,200.

Led by state senator Larry Grooms, lawmakers have done everything within their power to keep the existence of this surplus under wraps – while at the same time attempting to deflect the blame for the fiasco toward independently elected state treasurer Curtis Loftis.

The goal of all this? Simple: To spend this money instead of giving it back to taxpayers. Oh, and to get rid of one of the few genuine fiscal conservatives in state government.

As I reported last week, the plot began last year when a clique of senators led by Grooms refused to schedule a vote to replace outgoing S.C. comptroller Richard Eckstrom, whose office is ultimately responsible for all the bad math plaguing state government right now. This group sought to install its own comptroller – career bureaucrat Mike Shealy – thus keeping any additional financial “anomalies” securely under wraps.

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The problem? Shealy did not have the votes to win. He wasn’t even close. Former state representative Kirkman Finlay III, however, did have the votes – 105 of them, to be precise – and was already vowing to conduct “a complete audit” of Eckstrom’s office and make the findings of this audit available to the public.

Grooms and his cabal couldn’t have that … in fact, one state senator supporting these ongoing machinations admitted as much last week.

“If Kirkman was comptroller general and discovered this issue, I believe he would have alerted the legislature post-haste,” Thomas McElveen said.

Damn right he would have …

We’ll never know, though, because Grooms and his allies blocked Finlay’s ascension – thus allowing the comptroller position to be filled by “Republican” governor Henry McMaster. In keeping with his lifelong allegiance to the uni-party status quo, McMaster promptly installed Democrat Brian J. Gaines – a move which put the kibosh on Finlay’s planned audit and delayed the ensuing revelation taxpayers were sitting on this pile of money.

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Sen. Thomas McElveen questions S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 during a meeting concerning $1.8 billion that has been discovered in an account. (Travis Bell/STATEHOUSE CAROLINA)

Grooms knew about the existence of this money months ago – and said nothing. Why the silence? Because he knew there would be public pressure to return every penny of it to taxpayers … which, of course, there is.

Now, Grooms, McElveen and other senators – including “Republican” Stephen Goldfinch – are engaged in a witch hunt in the hopes of pinning the blame for this fiasco on Loftis, a politician they know they cannot control. In doing so, they claim to be exercising their “oversight” obligations, pursuing “accountability” and defending taxpayers.

What utter rubbish. This entire ruse is specifically intended to separate taxpayers from a $1.8 billion pot of money that belongs to them. A pot which should be immediately rebated to them. A pot which government clearly has no use for because it’s been sitting around untouched for the past five years.

“Republican” supermajorities in Columbia, S.C. are blowing through a record $38.8 billion in the current fiscal year budget – and are set to blow through a record $40.1 billion in the coming fiscal year. They have more than enough money for their antiquated, bloated, corrupt, dysfunctional and inefficient maze of bureaucracies without seizing this extra $1.8 billion.

If “Republicans” in South Carolina were really committed to limited government, lower taxes and growing the economy, they would stop playing political games right now … and give this money back to the people.

Every day they fail to do so is a reminder of who they really are and what they really stand for …

BANNER: Travis Bell Columbia SC Photographers

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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2 comments

CongareeCatfish Top fan April 8, 2024 at 2:59 pm

It’s been stated on multiple fronts that roles such as the Comptroller and Treasurer should not be political, but strictly “by-the-numbers” i.e., strictly financial. About 20+ years ago I would have readily agreed to that….but the problem is that the political hard left is all about acquiring power and control over the everyday lives of people in an ever-increasing fashion, to push their anti-western, human secularistic, socialist/communist globalist agenda. That quest for power is made itself manifest with ESG and DEI having become engrained in so many aspects of financial affairs and governance, along with divestment activities, de-banking disfavored persons, and commandeering the proxy vote process to in turn commandeer the public companies themselves. Loftis understands the game, and is willing to play hardball to fight against this crap. One can’t help but wonder if, aside from the usual intra-party interpersonal squabbles and political power struggles, there is also a hidden hand from the world of left-wing globalist high finance interests (a.k.a. Blackrock, State Street, George Soros, etc.) that are pushing for a scalp and aligning themselves with those who want to try to take down Loftis.

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Anonymous April 8, 2024 at 5:32 pm

ONE QUESTION TO ASK WHY A MARYLAND CPA FIRM WAS HIRED TO AUDIT THE STATES FINANCES ????

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