Year of birth: 1948
Number of years living in the district you seek to represent: Forty-six
Family: Divorced; 3 grown children; 4 grandchildren
Education: Bachelor of Science (USC, 1971), MBA (USC School of Business, 1977), Master of Accountancy (USC School of Business, 1978)
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Current occupation/employer: CPA, Comptroller General, State of SC
Employment, military and volunteer history:
Employment: KPMG (formerly Peat Marwick Mitchell, CPAs), 1978-1990; Queens College, Charlotte, NC, Adjunct Faculty (Corporate Finance), 1979-80; Martin & Lennon, CPAs, 1990-1994; State Treasurer, 1995-1998; Comptroller General, 2003-Present
Military: US Navy (Active duty), 1971-1973; US Navy (Reserves), 1973-1994, retired as Captain (O-6); SC State Guard, 2005-2014, State Guard commander, 2011-2014, retired as Major General (O-8).
Volunteer: Chm, USC Friends of the Accounting Department (FAD); President, Greenville Breakfast Rotary Club, 1986-87 and 1993-94
Please list all public offices to which you’ve been elected, when and where: State Treasurer of SC, 1994; Comptroller General of SC, 2002, 2006, and 2010
Please list year and office of any unsuccessful runs for public office: 1998, State Treasurer; 1999 (special election), SC House District 85
Other political and government experience: Chm, SC Military Base Task Force, 2003-2013; Member, SC State Mental Health Commission, 1991-1994; Chm, Greenville Mental Health Center Board; Chm, Greenville Vocational Rehabilitation Work Center Board.
Key endorsements you’ve received: South Carolina Citizens for Life
1. What makes you the most qualified person to hold this position?
My experience best qualifies me. Because the duties of this office are technical in nature there’s no more important qualification than experience in governmental accounting and reporting. In addition to having varied experience as a CPA, I’ve got in-depth experience improving systems to account for governmental activities and to report on results. Plus I’ve got a record of helping implement accountability and efficiency reforms, from restructuring the Budget & Control Board and reforming the unemployment agency to sounding the alarm about the retirement system deficit and bringing financial transparency to government. (The Comptroller, in particular, must be committed to financial transparency.)
2. What will be your top three priorities if you are elected?
a. As the first CPA to hold this position, upon taking office I immediately implemented a program to improve the quality of financial reporting and accounting. Some of those improvements include enhanced safeguards against waste and abuse; fiscal transparency; and steadily improving the time it takes to compile and produce the state’s annual financial statements (the CAFR). Improving financial accounting and oversight is a continual process. I’ve been active in promoting the importance of filling accounting positions with qualified CPAs, and that’s an area I’ll continue to vigorously pursue. Too many government accounting positions aren’t filled by CPAs, and that concerns me.
b. I plan to continue improving my Fiscal Transparency Initiative, including making more information publicly available on economic development grants and tax incentives (the incentives that state government uses to recruit out-of-state companies or as incentives for in-state companies to expand). I also plan on making more details available on revenues from fines and penalties that are assessed by state agencies rather than by the court system. We will continually strive to improve our transparency website by adding useful information of public interest that will increase accountability.
c. Reforming and restructuring government is always a tall challenge that requires a team approach. I’ll continue to work with other pro-reform state leaders to push for changes needed to make government work better. I supported restructuring the Budget & Control Board and transferring Board staff functions to the newly-authorized Department of Administration (DOA). I’ll continue to support efforts necessary to fully operationalize DOA by July 1, 2015. I’ll also work closely with PEBA to assure that its Board members understand the necessity of more effectively managing the state’s escalating retiree benefit obligations.
3. What do you consider your most significant accomplishments in this office?
I’m proud of our Fiscal Transparency Initiative, which is part of my overall effort to improve accounting and oversight throughout government. We started with a Fiscal Transparency Website showing the detailed monthly expenditures of state agencies. At the time, very few states provided spending information online.
We later launched an ultimately successful campaign to encourage cities, counties and school districts to voluntarily post their spending details online. We later expanded the initiative to include colleges and universities, and then to include procurement card spending. (And we accomplished all this without receiving any additional funds.) This initiative also includes my successful push to livestream B&CB meetings.
4. Describe at least one significant political position you hold that would clash with your political base.
I have proposed consolidating the state's two financial offices – Comptroller and Treasurer – into one office as a means of improving accountability and efficiency. In the absence of combining them, I believe that these offices, being technical offices, should be appointed rather than elected. Whether appointed or elected, I believe that qualification requirements for these offices should be established. Naturally, there were many people – including Republicans – who were apprehensive about such changes. But that’s the case with any major reform.
5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime, been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics complaint filed against you? If so, please give the details.
Two complaints had been filed with the State Ethics Commission – both were heard by Commissioners and ultimately dismissed. (2006 complaint- Improper use of state vehicle; 2013 complaint- Improper use of campaign funds)
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.
7. Are there any personal details about you that voters would be interested in knowing?
Before entering elected office, I’d been a CPA for a leading international accounting firm and had put together a proposal to audit the state’s books for the very first time. The state accepted the proposal and I led the team of CPAs that accomplished this herculean task. We helped the state qualify for top national recognition (the Certificate of Excellence for Achievement in Financial Reporting) of its financial statements. Needless to say, this gave me very unique insights into state finances and ultimately led me to become interested in elected public service.
The state has continued to earn top national recognition annually for its CAFR, including the past twelve years that I’ve been Comptroller.