SC Governor Ousts Workers' Comp Director Over Husband's Deal
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday removed the head of the State Accident Fund, calling for an investigation into whether she improperly steered a $600,000 government contract to her husband’s company.
In a letter, McMaster asked State Inspector General Brian Lamkin to “conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether criminal violations of state law have occurred," writing that his office was tipped off in January to allegations that Amy Cofield’s agency had hired her husband, Jimmy Terrapin, as a contractor.
Cofield has led the agency responsible for workers’ compensation insurance for nearly 200,000 employees in the state since McMaster appointed her in 2019. She confirmed the arrangement — which calls for her husband to work nearly 40 hours a week at $150 an hour for the next two years, or about $300,000 a year — when questioned by McMaster’s attorney, the governor wrote.
“These procurement actions raise significant ethical and legal questions about the conduct of employees at the State Accident Fund,” McMaster said in a statement.
Last year, the fund sought a consultant’s help with picking and implementing a new software program to handle a case management system. But Cofield said no one responded to an initial request for bids. Cofield told media outlets she knew her husband could do the job and assumed it would be a conflict of interest to hire him, with the process only proceeding once procurement officials approved it.
“I would never, never, never, never have done anything wrong and jeopardized this job,” Cofield told The State. “I love this job.”
Cofield told media outlets she was shocked by the removal, suggesting that a disgruntled employee had turned on her and reported the deal, which she said had been sanctioned by procurement officials.
Cofield alleged that Tommy Windsor, a former McMaster aide and now the fund's government affairs director, was denied a job as her chief of staff and chose to get back at her by reporting the situation to the governor.
“I know he was mad,” Cofield told The Post and Courier. “I’m not happy about his unloyalty.”
A spokesman for McMaster had no comment about Windsor or whether he informed the governor’s office about the contract. Windsor did not respond to messages Monday.
McMaster and Windsor have a long history. In 2003, then-Attorney General McMaster re-hired Windsor as a special investigator, seven years after Windsor's resignation over sending a derogatory e-mail. At the time, McMaster called Windsor's earlier action “a stupid mistake” that had been meant as a satirical gag.
The governor said Monday that Erin Farthing, the agency’s chief counsel, will serve as acting director until a permanent replacement is nominated and confirmed by the state Senate.