- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Leadership has come full circle at the agency that manages the retirement benefits and health insurance of South Carolina’s public workers.

By a 10-0 vote Thursday, Peggy Boykin was named the new director of the Public Employee Benefits Authority. Boykin has been a board member of the agency since legislators created it in 2012 as part of the pension reform law. She recused herself from the vote.

Between 2002 and 2011, Boykin was the director of the authority’s predecessor, the South Carolina Retirement Systems, which was a division of a larger agency chaired by the governor. Boykin was removed soon after Gov. Nikki Haley took office, with Haley saying new leadership was needed.

Board chairman Art Bjontegard said Boykin, a certified public accountant, was chosen from among more than 85 applicants after a national search.

He called her a smart consensus builder with “great political instincts,” which he considers critical to leading an agency that answers to the Legislature. Bjontegard also said Boykin is well-liked by employees, noting many lobbied for her selection.

Her first day in the new role will be Monday. She replaces interim director Travis Turner, the agency’s third director in just two years.

“There’s no more revolving door,” Bjontegard said, adding that the turnover destabilized the agency. “It’s been a thorough process, and we’re confident we made a good choice.”

Boykin did not immediately respond to an email.

Under the 2012 law that created the Public Employee Benefits Authority as a stand-alone agency, the 11-member board that oversees it must include four beneficiaries of the state retirement plan. Boykin was appointed by House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, to fill one of those seats.

Boykin worked for the South Carolina Retirement Systems for 20 years before her removal. The Wagener native has since worked as a special projects director for the College of Charleston, her alma mater.

Her new salary will be set by the state’s Agency Head Salary Commission. Her College of Charleston salary is $65,700, according to the state’s salary database. She also makes $12,000 yearly as a benefits authority board member.

Turner’s salary is nearly $129,000.

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