Drew Theodore, Comptroller General


Sept. 20, 10 a.m. — Here’s another one where we didn’t have to ask, "Who’s your Daddy?" That’s been a common experience this year.

So why is this man smiling? Well, for one thing he’s an upbeat kind of guy. For another, he has good cause: This race would be a yawner if not for the interesting bit of news Drew Theodore uncovered with regard to incumbent Comptroller General Rich Eckstrom — you know, about how he used a state vehicle and state gas card to take his family on vacation in Minnesota or someplace else so far up north it’s ridiculous.

That, together with Mr. Eckstrom’s penchant for other odd behavior and his lack of social skills, could put the son of the former lieutenant governor in range of victory. Since that means he’d have a seat on the Budget and Control Board, this becomes interesting.

Mr. Theodore says the comptroller general’s office was set up to be an independent fiscal watchdog on state government, "looking at priorities of where the money is being spent." This, he believes, Mr. Eckstrom has not been — not even counting the vacation thing.

He said Mr. Eckstrom, an accountant, is micromanaging the office. The Democrat says that by contrast, he would — as an elected official — concentrate on issues of policy, and let the financial professionals in the office run the day-to-day.

"Policy" is why he believes (unlike me) that the office should continue to be elected, so that there is a fiscal officer with independence. "I think there ought to be an office," either treasurer or comptroller, "elected independently so the governor and the General Assembly know they have somebody looking over their shoulders."

He also defends the hermaphroditic Budget and Control Board, but his logic smacks a bit of longing for forgotten days gone by: "When the system and everybody is getting along, it’s a good thing to have." In other words, the only problem to him is the personalities of some of the members, not the fact that it confuses and entangles the separate functions of the executive and legislative branches.

"It worked before with different parties and different agendas," just not now. "There’s a lack of respect within the board. They’re doing these protest votes." That was a reference to what he sees as symbolic, contrarian gestures by the governor and Mr. Eckstrom against the other two Republicans and one Democrat on the board.

He says he agrees with a lot of things Gov. Sanford wants to do — such as "when he says there are parts of government we should reduce" — and doesn’t understand why he doesn’t work better with people to try to accomplish some of them. "If you really believe what the governor is trying to do, find a way to get it done."

There are contrasts with the governor as well. "I also believe there are some areas where we need to put more resources in," he said. "He (the governor) probably totally disagrees with that."

Beyond that, Mr. Theodore says he would use the office to help local governments, and the state, with economic development.

He would reinstate a hotline for whistleblowers that he said the office used to have under Earle Morris. He said such a setup would be even more effective today, what with e-mail and other formers of modern communication.

He went on at some length about ways to reform health care, using models from other states, including Massachusetts. The idea is to form pools in which uninsured folks who work for state government get together to achieve economies. He would raise the cigarette tax to get that started.

He finished up talking about Mr. Eckstrom’s vacation. "He holds himself out as looking out for government waste, but he" does things like this. Where he took it too far (in terms of whether he got away with it or not) is when he used the state gas card, because "that’s how we tracked it."

"He signed the car out saying he wasn’t taking it out of South Carolina," said Mr. Theodore of his opponent. "If he’s a CPA and he didn’t pay taxes on the use of those two vehicles, then he’s got more problems than just being comptroller general."


9 thoughts on “Drew Theodore, Comptroller General

  1. Silence Dogood

    Theodore is a long time business man in S.C. who I think will do good job at this post. I have met him personally and can honestly say he is a delightful and smart guy with some good ideas for the office. I don’t have anything negative to say about Mr. Eckstrom (whom I have never met) though the gas card/state car thing was definitely a dent in the armor for me in my opinion of him. Right now I believe I am going to vote for Theodore, but am anxiously anticipating the debate almost as much as Barber-Bauer which should be good. I believe the more people Mr. Theodre meets the more likely they will see he is one of the top Democratic candidtates running for state wide office this year. I say this having met and spoken with most all of the statewide candidates of both parties.

  2. ChrisW

    Egad…Theodore sounds like he is running for governor, not comptroller general. That’s all we need, another “policy person” looking out for us.
    He also overlooks the fact that when his dad was Lt. Governor, he was often chauffeured around in a big black state car…and had more security than the present Lt. Gov…
    But the only politics that works these days is “gotcha” politics…and the State Newspaper is only to happy to play.

  3. Lee

    Playing “gotcha” is easy, because you don’t have to do any journalist work. You just lay around and wait for rumors to be brought to you, and pre-written articles in the form of press releases.

  4. bud

    This race is the no-brainer of the century. How could anyone vote for Eckstrom after his brazen assault on the intelligence of the people of SC? It’s high time we sent a message to elected officials who have such a callous disregard for common desency.

  5. Chris W

    If I won an election, and received a car as part of the compensation, and was explicitly told that I could use it for state and personal business…I would sell my other car at once.
    It is a perk…just like the cars I give to my sales people, and they are free to use them on their personal time. Some have taken long vacations…but that is ok because I GAVE THEN THE USE OF THE CAR.
    I suppose you would like to see his check book too…after all, we gave him $92,000 a year in salary. Perhaps he spent some of it differently than you would have desired…
    Some people just can’t see past simple, juvenile “gotcha points”… it is the dumbing down of politics…and it is regrettable. It keeps us from the REAL issues of the day.

  6. Dave

    Here is a suggestion. Eckstrom resigns, the gov appoints Campbell in his place and Campbell goes on the ticket this fall. Kind of like NJ politics, eh?

  7. RonJk

    Campbell is through as a Republican office holder. He said he would support the winner of the Lt. Gov’s race, and yet he does not. He is a turncoat…and loyal GOP’ers will not forget it.

  8. Brad Warthen

    More security than the present Gov Lite? Well, I suppose so, since Andre has none (and maybe he should, to keep him from driving).
    You could use a better comparison than that. Nick had more security than the governor did. I was at the 88 Democratic Convention in Atlanta, and he had so many guards they had their own operations center, with comm link, set up in a room on the first floor of the delegation’s hotel. It was really something.

  9. Chris w

    Hey Brad…
    Well that was my point. When the Theodore family was in power they were grand. Nick and family were driven around, protected and “handled” in every way possible. Nick is not running for office now, nonetheless, it is interesting how a family that would have to write a HUGE CHECK to the SC treasury to repay their personal expenses …is now pursuing an office holder for what is legal…and in the end, nickels and dimes.
    Brad…by the way, I enjoy your post much more now since the “change”… thanks.


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