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Haley's Handling Of Board Appointments Draws Criticism

Nikki Haley
Governer Nikki Haley align=left

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has been busy the past few months quietly appointing dozens of people to state boards and commissions. Such moves typically go unnoticed, but several of Haley's have landed on the front page. One of the perks of being South Carolina governor is the power to choose who will fill literally thousands of positions on boards and commissions from the state to local level. "Traditionally these types of appointments are nice political favors," says Kendra Stewart, a political scientist at the College of Charleston. Stewart says it's very common for a governor to appoint campaign donors and political allies to boards and commissions. Of the 59 people Governor Nikki Haley has so far appointed, nearly half gave money to her campaign. That's not what people expected of Haley, says Clemson political scientist David Woodard. "I mean, she was the Tea Party candidate and she was gonna sweep the good old boys out," says Woodard. "Well, in effect she does the same sort of cronyism that is characteristic of previous governors." (Woodard is a Republican strategist who backed one of Haley's opponents in the primary election.) Haley says the appointments bring fresh views to key boards and will help advance her policies. But Woodard says the governor is removing people considered Republican Party allies. Take University of South Carolina trustee Darla Moore, who has pledged more than $70 million to the school. She was appointed by a Democrat, but reappointed by Republican Mark Sanford and widely revered for her pro-business education philanthropy. Haley abruptly gave Moore the boot in favor of an attorney who donated $4,500 to her campaign. The governor also replaced nearly every member of several other boards at the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Health and ETV. Many of the governor's picks make sense, says USC political scientist Mark Tompkins. The problem is how she's made the changes - quickly and without much tact. "It seems to reflect inexperience," says Tompkins. "Seasoned hands would have suggested to her that they slow down and do this a little more deliberately and a little more gently." A spokesman for Governor Haley says she's doing exactly what she promised when elected - bringing "an entirely new approach to state government."