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South Carolina officials plotting next steps for $1.8B balance

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(The Center Square) — South Carolina state officials are determining how to proceed with a $1.8 billion balance discovered in a state account and Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has given leaders a July 1 deadline to chart a course forward.

On Oct. 31, 2023, South Carolina Comptroller General Brian Gaines sent a letter to South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis, directing Loftis to research the account’s origins. It marked the start of a months-long Senate investigation that exposed what a Senate Finance Committee Constitutional Subcommittee report dubbed “financial irregularities” in the state treasurer’s office.

“On April 11, Governor McMaster convened a meeting with state officials and agency leaders,” Brandon Charochak, a spokesman for the governor, told The Center Square via email. “He charged them to work together as a group in order to determine the existence, purpose and intended destination of the $1.8 billion in question before July 1st.

“The effort will be coordinated by the Department of Administration,” Charochak added. “The governor believes the public’s confidence is best maintained when elected officials and agencies work together to solve problems through collaboration, cooperation and communication.”

Loftis was among the participants who attended the April 11 meeting. In a statement, he said state senators “can say and do anything they like, and there are no consequences,” adding that senators face “no penalties” for “making false statements” and there is “no court action available to me.”

“It should be obvious to everyone that the subcommittee would like to overturn the election of an executive branch official and install a puppet to control the funds of the state,” Loftis said in a statement.

“I’ll not read the Senate’s report, nor will I watch the Senate proceedings, as the subcommittee’s mission is not one based on honor and integrity,” Loftis added. “However, a staff member will watch and read it in search of any useful information and to correct its errors and resulting conclusions.”