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SC Gov. McMaster accepts Comptroller General's resignation letter after $3.5B accounting error

Richard Eckstrom said his last day in office will be April 30

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom has turned in his resignation and will be stepping down from his office after a decades-long accounting error amounting to $3.5 billion was disclosed.

Eckstrom announced his decision in a letter to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster Thursday morning. Ecktsrom's last day in office will be April 30.  

"Over the course of my time in public office, I have taken great pride in the responsibility entrusted in me," Eckstrom said in the letter. "I have been humble in my approach to the job, an attitude I hope our constituents have recognized and will remember." 

Eckstrom did not acknowledge the accounting error in the letter or the ongoing controversy involving state lawmakers. He did say he hopes by giving lawmakers over a month before he leaves that they can come up with a process to elect his replacement. He also said he supports them putting forward a constitutional amendment to make the comptroller general a position appointed by the governor.

It will end his 20 year long run as the state's accountant, the longest-serving constitutional officer in the state. 

Governor Henry McMaster, in a letter accepting Eckstrom's resignation, thanked the comptroller for his friendship and dedicated service to the State and wished Eckstrom well.

In recent weeks, after the $3.5 billion accounting error in the state's general fund came to light, state senators pushed to change the office from an elected one to an appointed position. Senate members also put forth a resolution to remove Eckstrom from office with House members reducing his $151,000 annual salary to $1. Impeachment was also considered.

The error started as a $12 million coding error in 2007 and was compounded when the state switched accounting systems in 2011, Eckstrom told senators at hearings in the past few weeks.

State cash transferred to colleges and universities was being double counted and auditors said Eckstrom ignored repeated warnings about the problem. They said he waited five years to conduct a full review of accounts that eventually assisted in uncovering the problem about a year ago.

District 34 Senator Stephen Goldfinch was a member of the subcommittee investigating the errors. He expressed his feelings toward the resignation saying, "I'm glad that he's resigned. But I'll tell you that its a sad day for me, and a sad day for South Carolina when you wind up in a situation like this. But the process worked, the system worked. The subcommittee did a great job doing their work, and ultimately what should've happened, happened."

Senator Kevin Johnson from Clarendon explained a similar feeling for the situation, "When you’re the Comptroller General, and you have those kinds of issues within your agency, someone has to be held accountable and I think he, being the comptroller general, and the lead person in the agency, he’s the person that’s accountable. I think up to certain extent, he put the state in a bad light."

Eckstrom has run unopposed by anyone in the past two elections and last had a challenger in the Republican primary in 2010.

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