South Carolina wants answers about $1.8 billion sitting in a bank

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South Carolina has collected astir $1.8 cardinal successful a slope relationship complete nan past decade  — and doesn't cognize wherever nan money came from aliases wherever it was expected to go. 

"It's for illustration going into your slope and nan slope president tells you we person a batch of money successful our vault but we conscionable don't cognize who it belongs to," said Republican Sen. Larry Grooms, who is starring a Senate sheet investigating nan problem.

The slope account, which is now being examined by authorities and backstage accountants, is nan latest problem pinch nan state's books and comes aft South Carolina's apical accountant resigned past year. In that case, elected Republican comptroller wide Richard Eckstrom stepped down aft his agency started double posting money successful higher acquisition accounts, starring to a $3.5 cardinal correction that was each connected paper. 

The insubstantial correction started during a decade-long modulation to a caller accounting system, which began successful 2007, according to nan South Carolina Daily Gazette. 

But nan $1.8 cardinal involves existent rate placed successful a slope account. Now, lawmakers are asking why nan money was parked location successful first spot and why officials ne'er fixed nan problem, 

"This is 1 of nan things that was swept nether nan rug for years," Grooms told nan Daily Gazette.

Looking for answers

Investigative accountants are still trying to untangle nan mess, but it appears that each clip nan state's books were retired of whack, money was shifted from location into an relationship that helped equilibrium it out, authorities Senate leaders person said.

"Politics really shouldn't travel into play. People for illustration their accountants not beryllium crusaders," Grooms said Tuesday, conscionable aft nan Senate approved putting a constitutional amendment earlier voters to make nan comptroller wide an appointed position. The connection now goes to nan House.

Grooms suggested that an amendment to make nan treasurer besides appointed mightiness beryllium adjacent unless he tin supply immoderate satisfactory answers.

Whatever caused nan slope relationship errors has not been rectified, and if location are records showing wherever nan $1.8 cardinal came from, they person not been shared pinch authorities leaders.

"It does not animate confidence. But nan bully news is nary money was lost," Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said.

$200 cardinal successful interest

Elected Republican Treasurer Curtis Loftis, whose occupation is to constitute checks for nan state, has said he invested nan money successful nan enigma relationship and made astir $200 cardinal successful liking for nan state, which led to questions astir why he didn't fto nan General Assembly cognize money they either group speech for authorities agencies aliases that mightiness person been successful a spot money was conscionable sitting around.

Loftis said that wasn't nan occupation of his office.

The comptroller wide "is attempting to displacement work to cleanable up its messiness to nan Treasurer," Loftis wrote successful a March 14 missive to Grooms that besides said a timeline to reply questions successful conscionable a fewer weeks was impossible.

Loftis said his unit spent thousands of hours researching nan account, and that nan Comptroller General's Office has refused to meet pinch them aliases stock information. In 1 Facebook comment earlier this month, he asked his followers to "pray for my unit arsenic they are moving tremendous hours owed to this situation."

An audit of really nan Treasurer's Office and nan Comptroller General's Office pass recovered they don't do it well.

The treasurer hasn't answered elaborate questions from lawmakers but has posted statements connected societal media wherever he said he was being attacked politically and was having blasted shifted connected him by Comptroller General Brian Gaines, a well-respected profession authorities worker who took complete nan agency aft Richard Eckstrom resigned during his sixth term.

A agelong history of accounting issues

Gaines and Loftis person been called earlier Grooms' committee adjacent week. Grooms said Gaines has answered each mobility his subcommittee has asked and that he has assurance successful his work.

Grooms said he thinks Loftis' agency should person recovered nan mistake, but it was reported by nan Comptroller General's Office.

South Carolina has had a agelong history of accounting issues.

The Treasurer's Office was created erstwhile nan state's first constitution was written successful 1776. Back then, nan General Assembly selected nan treasurer. But by nan early 1800s, nan state's finances were successful "a authorities of bewildering confusion" and nary 1 could "tell nan amounts of debts aliases of nan in installments of nan State," according to History of South Carolina, a book edited successful 1920 by Yates Snowden and Howard Cutler.

The first comptroller wide wished nan authorities was owed astir $750,000, which would beryllium worthy astir $20 cardinal coming considering inflation.

Meanwhile, plentifulness of lawmakers and others are alert location is $1.8 cardinal sitting astir perchance unspent and not appropriated astatine a clip erstwhile $3 cardinal successful requests from authorities agencies went unfulfilled successful adjacent year's fund conscionable passed by nan South Carolina House.

Legislative leaders and nan politician want to hold for immoderate definitive study earlier tapping into nan account.

"That's a batch of money and location is nary request to hurry up and effort to walk it," McMaster said.

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