South Carolina Official with ‘Accounting for Dummies’ Book Quits After Committing $3.5 Billion Accounting Error

Richard Eckstrom with 'Accounting for Dummies'

Mary Ann Chastain/AP

The longtime comptroller general of South Carolina resigned on Thursday after he oversaw a massive $3.5 billion accounting error.

Richard Eckstrom quit after a state Senate panel accused him of “willful neglect of duty” and stated he was solely to blame for an ongoing reporting error that occurred in the 2010s.

At an introduction ceremony for his new chief of staff in 2009, Eckstrom brandished a book titled Accounting for Dummies and said he intended to give it to his new hire.

It turns out that under Eckstrom’s 20-year tenure, South Carolina’s annual financial report “exaggerated the state’s cash balances for a decade by double counting the money sent to colleges and universities.”

A junior staffer fixed the error, which began when the comptroller general’s office switched to a new information system.

“I have never taken service to the state I love or the jobs to which I have been elected lightly, endeavoring to work with my colleagues… to be a strong defender of the taxpayer and a good steward of their hard-earned tax dollars,” Eckstrom wrote in his resignation letter to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “They deserve nothing less.”

The resignation came less than a month before the Senate was set to hold a vote on whether to remove Eckstrom. It will now appoint a replacement to serve the remainder of the term, which ends in 2027.

As for Accounting for Dummies, the book can be purchased for around $20, which, if it contains guidance on how to avoid multibillion-dollar errors, is quite the investment.

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Mike is a Mediaite senior editor who covers the news in primetime.