Haley brings new look to state government

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Governor Nikki Haley has put her own people in charge of many top state agencies. She's also re-shaping the boards and commissions overseeing those agencies.

Haley's actions could give the private sector greater influence in the public arena.

Nikki Haley has brought a new look to the governor's office, and she's doing the same to state government. Over the last few days, Haley has replaced six of the seven members on the board overseeing the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Haley has installed four new members on the board at the Department of Natural Resources. That's just a sample of what's to come as Haley fills hundreds of more slots on state and local boards. "You're going to see a lot of clean house," said Haley, "You're going to see a lot of new faces, and you're going to see a lot of pro-business initiatives that come out of these boards and commissions.

But some of the governor's decisions have also drawn critical fire. One place is at DHEC where most of the incoming board will be tackling the agency's issues for the first time. Haley said that's not a major problem. "What I've put is very strong business people that know all aspects of business but also understand that you gotta strike that balance with environmental issues," said Haley, "I think we've put very top quality people on there. We've put a lot of time and effort into who are going to be on these boards because they have to report back to me."

Haley's removal of business school namesake Darla Moore from the USC Board of Trustees has generated multiple Facebook pages supporting Moore and demanding her reinstatement. Thousands of users have approved the pages and students plan to protest Haley's action Wednesday at the State House. "I love that they know the power of their voice," said Haley, "I love that they're getting out there and taking action. But I have one voting member on a 19 member board, and I have to have a member that I know agrees with my philosophy, will be accessible when I need him or her to be. And I picked the person that I thought was greatly qualified. Tommy Cofield is a wonderful board member."

Haley also rejected suggestions she is rewarding campaign donors with her appointments.

Cofield was a Haley donor, but the governor said fewer than half of her board appointments gave money to her campaign. She said some of her choices to head agencies even donated to her opponents.

Haley has only named a few dozen people so far, but she could potentially fill thousands of positions on boards and commissions.

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