Breaking News
More () »

Impeachment inquiry under consideration after $3.5 billion error in SC

The resolution hopes to find whether there is enough evidence to support impeaching the state's comptroller general, Richard Eckstrom.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina lawmakers are eyeing the possibility of an impeachment inquiry of the state comptroller over a multi-billion dollar error that spanned many years.

State Rep. Gil Gatch announced on Friday that he intends to file a House Resolution requesting an impeachment inquiry into South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom.

Gatch's announcement pointed to a recent announcement by Eckstrom to the Senate Finance Committee that the Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports for the last 10 years had overstated the amount of cash the state had in its coffers by $3.5 billion due to an alleged software switch exacerbated by human error. 

The South Carolina State Treasurer, Curtis Loftis, also said in a subcommittee meeting that this was a reporting error and no cash in the state's budget was impacted. However, he also brought up concerns about communication between agencies. He added that his office didn't learn of the issue until late 2022.

The House Resolution asks the House Judiciary Committee to look into whether or not Eckstrom should be impeached for serious misconduct in office "including but not limited to dereliction of duty and breach of the public trust."

Richard Eckstrom responded to the resolution in a statement to News 19: 

"I do not take the job the voters have entrusted me with lightly, I keep politics out of it, and I have always valued my strong working relationship with members of the General Assembly. I look forward to answering questions or concerns legislators have in the days and weeks ahead – just as I have before. We will do what it takes to make sure they are as confident as we are about the work this office does for the taxpayers going forward. Our constituents deserve nothing less.

If found to be true, the resolution aims to have those findings brought to the floor of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

“I am concerned that the truth about this was purposefully hidden from the public,” said Rep. Gatch in a statement provided to WLTX. “This is a grave miscarriage of the public trust. 

He added that "if there was ever a reason for which the House should act on our authority to impeach, this rises to the top."

Eckstrom told legislators in February that his office noticed the problem at the start of the pandemic. He added that the issue had been corrected and that it shouldn't impact their ability to debate the upcoming budget.

"We've dealt with the problem," Eckstrom told lawmakers in February.

But Rep. Matthew Leber, who is one of the co-sponsors of the impeachment inquiry resolution, has since shared strong words for what he describes as "apparent shoddy bookkeeping" by Eckstrom and concerns that "he knew he had a problem but did not disclose it to the General Assembly."

If the request is approved by two-thirds of the House, it would head to the Senate who has been conducting its own investigation into the error. Berkeley Senator Larry Grooms has been leading the committee, declined to comment on the House's Resolution. 

"Until there’s a full picture and an accounting of what occurred and why it occurred it would be wrong to speculate over what the remedy out to be," said Grooms.

Grooms Tells News 19 there will be two more hearings next week and expects Eckstrom to testify in front of lawmakers for a second time. 

"The more we dig, the more we learn. The more we learn the better we’ll be able to understand the problem and craft the right solution," said Grooms. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out