You gotta like this new state treasurer.
Curtis Loftis hasn't been in office two months yet, and he's already shaken up Columbia enough that the establishment is gunning for him.
Now, that's a compliment.
If you haven't been paying attention, Loftis is the guy who asked Patriots Point last week why they are spending $5,000 a month on lobbyists -- a question, he says, the general public wants answered. Fair enough.
Before that, Loftis got the Budget and Control Board meetings moved to a room actually big enough for the public to attend. And he called out the so-called transparent governor for holding secret meetings with members of said board. He publicly asked for information about the confab, much to the consternation of her staff.
All of this has a growing number of government watchers impressed with the new constitutional officer. Loftis said there is a perverse logic at work here.
"In politics, no one ever believes you, so the bar is pretty low," Loftis said. "If you say you're going to drive your own car or put your schedule online, and you actually do it, it's amazing."
Unfortunately, he's absolutely right.
Loftis is a Midlands businessman who worked as director of the Office on Aging. He also formed his own charity to provide "education, nutrition and medical care of children, especially those with disabilities."
He decided to run for treasurer a year ago and took out Legislature-appointed Treasurer Converse Chellis in a lively primary battle. The trouble began weeks before Loftis took office, when he allegedly refused to go along with Gov.-elect Haley's choice for Budget and Control Board director.
Then he showed up the governor's office by posting a much more transparent daily schedule on the Internet.
And when Haley met with the chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees on Jan. 31, Loftis asked for the minutes of the meeting. After all, it was a quorum of the Budget and Control Board.
Haley's chief of staff sent Loftis' office a letter saying that "he is not a relevant player" -- an immature jab from the gov's young staff.
"I was told to mind my own business," Loftis said. "I'm trying to."
But a lot of people hope he's not trying too hard.
A couple of weeks ago, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom -- another member of the Budget and Control Board -- started lobbying lawmakers to combine his job and the treasurer's into one position that would be appointed by the governor.
Just to save money, of course. Surely that's not a play to put Loftis out of a job, right?
Loftis said he wasn't consulted before this trial balloon was floated, and hasn't given it much thought. But it doesn't sound too transparent to him.
"I'm leery of consolidating too much power in one person," Loftis said, noting that a governor appointee would be far less accountable to the public.
The idea probably won't go anywhere, and Haley and Eckstrom would ultimately regret it should it happen.
With Loftis' job eliminated, some people might decide to draft a true transparency crusader to run for governor.
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