South Carolina Radio Network has confirmed that state Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) Executive Director Abraham Turner will be leaving the agency next month.
Turner’s departure was first revealed by the Associated Press Friday morning. The director tendered his resignation in a handwritten note to the Governor’s Office Friday, saying he was leaving for “personal reasons.” Turner said he would leave SCDEW on March 1.
The governor quickly released a statement thanking Turner, “I appreciate General Turner’s – a lifelong public servant – devotion to our state and nation, and wish him nothing but the best going forward.”
Haley’s office would not say if she asked Turner to resign. The agency has come under fire in recent weeks, as some senators were furious about SCDEW’s plans to end in-person help with unemployment benefits at 17 of its rural offices . Lawmakers led by Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) have also slammed the agency for being slow to clamp down on fraudulent payments to ineligible recipients.
“The personalities involved are not very relevant to me. The governor can put whoever she wants in there,” Bryant said when contacted about Turner’s resignation. “I’m focused on the $54 million in improper payments.”
Meanwhile the House’s top Democrat was more blunt. “Governor Haley has allowed her agency… to become an absolute embarrassment,” Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia) said in a statement, “Governor Haley must regain control of her agency before it is too late. Millions of South Carolinians depend on this agency to be functional and effective. As it stands today, it is the opposite.”
The Governor’s Office said it will tap former SCDEW director John Finan to lead the agency on a temporary basis. Finan oversaw SCDEW when it became a Cabinet agency in 2010. He then led the agency for the first few months of Haley’s term, until Turner was able to retire from of the Army.
COPY OF TURNER’S LETTER BELOW: