Climer and Harpootlian write letter asking for transparency and audit of taxpayer dollars

Posted July 16, 2021 2:41 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News, News

Sens. Wes Climer, R-York, and Dick Harpootlian, D-Richland, earlier this week sent a letter to the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, whose members are Gov. Henry McMaster, state Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and top budget writers Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence and Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter calling for an audit of groups that received millions of taxpayer dollars through a secret funding process that has little accountability and is built on political influence. The new audit request covers the past three fiscal years — from 2017 to 2020 — and would shed light on how hundreds of recipients spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, something that has largely remained a mystery. Eckstrom, who helped create the state’s fiscal transparency page that allows the public to search payments made to organizations, said he largely agrees with Harpootlian and Climer’s call for transparency, adding that the laws in place are poorly written and have no teeth. A report released last year from the state’s inspector general’s office found that 73% of the groups receiving money over a two year period failed to show on how they spent approximately $43 million, as required by law. But that inquiry only provided a snapshot of the total funds appropriated from 16 agencies over two years.