SC’s Comptroller General Resigns After Discovery of $3.5 Billion Accounting Error


Richard Eckstrom, SC’s longest serving Comptroller General, has just submitted a letter of resignation after his $3.5 billion accounting error was brought to light. The error started as a $12 million coding mistake in 2007 and was exacerbated when the state switched accounting systems in 2011.

The crux of the error involved state cash transfers to colleges and universities, which were being double-counted. Despite running unopposed in the last two elections and last facing a challenger in the Republican primary in 2010, Eckstrom’s reputation has been significantly marred by the accounting fiasco.

Auditors claim that Eckstrom overlooked numerous warnings about the issue and took five years to initiate a comprehensive review that ultimately brought the problem to light a year ago.

In recent weeks, the discovery of the accounting error has led state senators to advocate for changing the Comptroller General’s office from an elected to an appointed position. Senate members also presented a resolution to remove Eckstrom from office, with House members slashing his annual salary to a symbolic $1. Impeachment was even contemplated as a possible course of action.

As Eckstrom prepares to leave his post on April 30, South Carolina faces a period of reckoning and reform. The implications of the $3.5 billion error will undoubtedly lead to changes in the way the state manages its finances and the structure of the Comptroller General’s office, marking the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in South Carolina.