SC Comptroller General Eckstrom marries 8 years after intimate emails leaked

Kelly Payne, left, and Richard Eckstrom
Kelly Payne, left, and Richard Eckstrom

A high-profile S.C. power couple has tied the knot.

S.C. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom married longtime girlfriend Kelly Payne over the holidays, according to a Facebook post from the new Kelly Eckstrom.

“Finally after ten years he asked me!” she wrote in a December Facebook post. By the end of the month, she had changed the name on her profile from Payne to Eckstrom.

Through a spokesman, Richard Eckstrom said he doesn’t comment publicly on his private life, but Kelly Eckstrom confirmed the recent nuptials to The State.

The relationship between the two has been in the spotlight for some time. In 2010, a series of love emails between the two were leaked.

Eckstrom was married at the time, but living apart from his wife. Payne was divorced.

The emails came out while Eckstrom was running for his third term as the state’s top accountant and Payne, then a Dutch Fork High School teacher, was running for state superintendent of education.

Payne’s bid for office failed in a GOP primary, but Eckstrom went on to win re-election. He won a fifth term as comptroller general last November, running unopposed.

The job includes acting as a fiscal watchdog in state government and includes a seat on the state’s powerful Fiscal Accountability Authority.

Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.